I’ve had some time to think about this today. In fact I have been really thoughtful all day. There are several reasons for this.
I went out to tea with a guy I met at work. We’ll call him Gift. I have found it a gift to know him, but not in the way that you would think. Actually, he has taught me a lot about myself. Gift is a pretty non-assuming person. If you weren’t looking you might not notice him. But I noticed him and set in motion a set of events that has left me dazed, questioning, and upside down for the past 2 weeks or so. In a perfect world, I probably shouldn’t have let myself do anything about my noticing him. But you see, the thing about Gift is that he was a Gift to me so that I could see something about myself. Perhaps, and hopefully, it is for no other reason that he is in my life.
For a long time I have wanted attention from men. And even though it’s not obvious, I’ve been consumed by it.
October was the first time I saw Gift, and he looked at me. But he didn’t just look. He stared. For 2 months. And I, like a moth, was drawn to this flame. He was extremely attractive, and only looked. I have had a thing for shy boys for some time so this was fascinating. I made up things in my head about him. Perhaps I was his artistic muse. Perhaps he wrote stories about me at night and prayed for a moment when I would notice him. Perhaps those stares meant that he thought I was beautiful. And if he, so attractive as he was, thought I was beautiful – well then maybe I really am!
We played cat and mouse with stares for 2 months. I’d stare at him then look away. He’d openly stare at me walking past the coffee bar. Finally, the cat gets tired of playing with the mouse and wants to catch it. I found out we had a mutual acquaintance and asked her about Gift. She, an older lady and a rather witty matchmaker type, decided we should be introduced. I lamely protested, but by then events were set in motion. So we were introduced. Had lunch. He, who had avoided purchasing anything at the coffee bar, started coming by daily. We had lunch again. After lunch he came down again 2 hours later and asked if I wanted to get together this weekend.
In between all this, quite a maelstrom had been brewing inside of me. I knew I craved attention. I knew that he seemed interested. I was terrified (of myself), yet intrigued nonetheless. Curiosity kills the cat, they say. Especially cats who have been chasing mice. In the end, it seemed quite harmless so I agreed. “Getting together” was quite innocent. He gave me his number, and such it began.
The incessant flirting.
I actually suspected this was coming. No shy boy stays shy with a phone in their hands. But it was also quite annoying that Shy Boy wouldn’t flirt in person, yet words suddenly became expert in his little fingers. And I, being naive and never really having been a single in the dating world, had no idea how to react. I reacted much as I have in this whole experience. Dancing a little close to the flames, but trying to keep from getting burnt. The truth is, I really didn’t know what I was doing, so if I was on fire I’d have had no idea. So for 2 days we flirted over text until today when we had tea. I say that “we” flirted because, as I said, I like attention. And as much as I hate to admit it, I probably did flirt too much. Like a moth to a flame. My wings were burning a little. I was hoping my house wouldn’t come crashing down.
Today at tea, I was suddenly disenchanted. Completely. I remembered first the last time I had been to the tea house – with my ex. And tears came to my eyes. I hid them expertly. I made sure I paid for my own tea – this was NOT going to be called a date if I could help it. Despite the fact that it was pretty damn close to one. (I had also declined his offer to pick me up) But we sat there talking, and the promises of questions that would be asked, never materialized. I was bored. I won’t be too harsh on him or exploit his conversational abilities (which I thought were a bit poor, but perceptions, perceptions). The truth is, he came to be a Gift. To serve me and show me something important.
I need to be alone.
I was uncomfortable. I felt twitchy, like my skin was crawling. No, more like my heart was crawling. My eyes were opened and I found him just as unattractive as I had found him attractive. I felt silly for staring for 2 months, for setting up an introduction, for even being here with someone I didn’t want to be with. I felt remorse for all the things I had told him about myself. Even though the things I had told him were every surface-y thing I could possibly come up with. Yes, real information – but quite little about my true heart. Even still I felt twitchy about someone knowing these things about me.
I realized that all the energy I have put forth into texting this person is energy I don’t have. Even last night I found myself annoyed that the conversation kept going, and going, and going. Yet, singeing my wings, I kept courting the conversation just to feel companionship. Being alone at night sometimes feels like the worst thing.
It was quite clear today though, that I am not ready for companionship. When you sit there and feel uncomfortable just to be there. When you are remembering your ex sitting at the table right behind you and the argument you had that night. When the train whistle sounds and memories of your sisters who have passed on flood you like a draught of emotion. When Gift asks, “How was 2011?” and you laugh cynically and say “Horrible.” And when he makes a comment and you respond, “But men are just stupid” then catch yourself and realize you’re talking to one. When you are off somewhere else in your mind and really just want to be alone to think. My mind was drifting off everywhere, and it wasn’t his fault; no, it wasn’t his fault that the whole time I sat there I wished myself gone.
I realized, in the bathroom right before we left, that despite my need for attention – I didn’t WANT it. In fact the attention made me feel almost sick. And if I admit it to myself I have felt almost sick about it for the past 2 days anyway. Because deep inside I am grief stricken and I don’t want the companionship.
I need to be alone. I need to be myself. I need space. Wide open space to run free like the wild child I am. Space to heal from all the shit I’ve been through with men. Space to learn to trust them again, not generalize, not criticize so harshly. Space to cry, to weep, to rage. A prairie, blustery and barren, for me to sit in, run in, cry in, BE in. Just there, by myself.
And so along came Gift, to reveal my true heart to my emotion driven self. My emotions were spiraling like crazy, but Gift gave me the clarity to realize what it is that I really need. (even though he will not likely be in my life for much longer)
I got a massage yesterday and when the therapist finished, she told me to take my time and enjoy the space. Fitting words. What I need? To enjoy the space, whatever it brings; whether it be loneliness, grief, or joy.
And if I give myself space, I will experience joy. Joy that doesn’t come because of boys. Joy that doesn’t stem from attention. Joy that isn’t even about outward circumstances. Joy in having a center and being okay with that center, even when that means crying your guts out. Joy in finding a Higher Power who is in control that you devote everything to, because control is overrated anyway. Joy in finding comfort in Jesus when it all falls apart. Joy in finding my identity. And I have a feeling that my identity is going to end up centrally in one place; in the arms of a God who will never let me go.
These are not things I deeply know yet. I want to pick up my phone and send a text just so I don’t feel grief and all its weird pinpricks. Yet this space, in all its yawning dark emptiness, will not kill me. Because even in space, there are bright, diamond-sharp stars. That’s what I hold onto. Even emptiness carries joy in the simplicity of being me. In Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Ring of Endless Light, she calls it “being the very me.”
2012 – In you, I will be. The very me.