Reclaiming My HEA is a monthly feature where I share my progress through my separation and divorce. It also includes snippets of a therapy exercise where I imagine myself in a healthy relationship. The purpose is to remind myself of what a supportive, caring partner would be like, to try and offset the effects of over a decade without one.
I don't like rejection. Yeah, I know, it's a complete shocker. No one likes rejection. But that fear has been holding me back for a very long time and it's time for me to face it. In short, I've already gotten my heart and my brain, which means it's time for me to wizard up some courage. (Possibly cute braids and an innocent yet sultry singing voice as well, but those are more optional.)
I'm a GenXer, which means I'm very comfortable with jaded nonchalance and self-deprecating jabs. But I am also a geek, which means I couldn't maintain a cool facade if my life depended on it. By nature, I'm bouncy, excited and eager to share. And over the years, my exuberance has been slapped down many times as "too much" for the people I was with. I get caught between the necessity of being myself and the desire not to drive people away with who I am.
Yet, the thing is that who I am isn't bad. I'm not claiming to be flawless or unproblematic, but as I try to untangle the negative messages of a lifetime, I'm realizing that I'm also not difficult or demanding. I'm not "too much" for the world, just too much for some of the people in it. And that's about them. Not about me.
However, that's easier said that believed sometimes. Especially when I'm taking the plunge of signing up for a dating app.
As I'm filling out the initial forms, all I'm finding myself thinking is about how the whole online dating process feels like setting myself up for a lot of rejection. I don't really want to open myself up to a whole new crowd of people who will tell me that I'm "too much."
And yet, that's the price of admission. If I want to find someone who thinks I'm exactly right just as I am, then I need to be strong enough to face the rejections.
This month's HEA writing exercise is based on a favourite scene of mine from the 1997 movie Fools Rush In, where the hero comes in to find the heroine preparing dinner. While she cooks, she's dancing around the kitchen and he pauses to watch her, entranced by her exuberance and passion.
I dance a lot. I'm usually the first one on and the last one off any dance floor. I dance when I'm doing chores and sometimes just because I feel like it. According to home movies, I've been doing it since I could barely walk. But I've never had a romantic partner who treated it as anything except a joke.
Here is this month's snippet:
The weekend getaway had seemed like the perfect idea. A rare opportunity to relax without the pressures of their day to day life. It would have all been much more effective if his business partner hadn't spent the last two hours bombarding him with emails and phone calls. The excessive barrage had required him to descend into the hotel's business centre instead of spending the evening with his partner.
Crisis finally resolved well after midnight, he returned to the suite, expecting to find his love sleeping or lost in a book. Instead, as he slipped through the door, he heard the muted thump of dance music. He stopped just inside the entrance, a shy smile curving his lips.
He treasured these glimpses of the free spirit that still thrived in her. Her life had been hard, far more difficult than it should have been, but it somehow hadn't crushed her.
She spun and saw him watching her. Instantly she slowed, uncertainty freezing the smile on her face. He smiled at her, reassuring her that there would be no mockery or dismissal. He held out his hand, inviting her to dance into his arms.