The Experience of Emptiness...
I am overdo'er. Of pretty much everything. Alcohol - yep; Sex - uh huh; food - many times; shopping - ask my parents; exercise - not lately but at different periods of time in my life - absolutely; drugs - only because I never did them (see above track record). I have so overdone so many things in my life that simple ordinary things have lost all pleasure. I have burnt them to the ground and then had to spend some pretty serious time trying to figure out “what the fuck do I do now?”
I have rebuilt my life after seriously almost destroying it with booze, I have rebounded from a demoralizing financial crisis in my late 20s (and several minor ones since), I have upended my entire life moving more times than I can count, I have totally unmoored my family by leaving my marriage. It seems, upon reflection, that I am “destined” to always be chasing something that is unattainable. If I am in a commitment, I seek freedom. If I have freedom, then I seek security. What it all equals is that I am fucked...or at least that is the way it feels.
Recently, I have totally overdone the dating thing. I finally felt like my heart was not completely dismantled and that I was ready to start over...again. I released all expectations and began. I had fun - I met a lot of really nice men. They weren’t all matches for me, but I found people that were interesting, caring and for the most part good. However, I didn’t want any of them. They were fine to hold my interest for a little while but I found myself out of reach: to them, to me, to moving on.
Don’t worry, I am not circling back to Lane. I have learned that he is not the answer - he is only the generator of questions - lots and lots of questions. Many of which I have already asked and answered so my legal training reinforces that it is time to move on...so I am trying.
But I only seem to have this one method for living my life and that is finding something pleasurable then doing it so much that the thought of ever doing it again makes me want to kill myself (not literally). This is where I am with dating...
A guy asked me the other day “What are you looking for?” And I did not have a response. Thank God it was through a text so I had time to formulate a response. So I queried myself, “What the fuck do I want?” (I always ask myself hard questions and they almost always involve the word fuck). If I am totally honest, I want a man that looks like Lane to come and show up in my life and making loving me his priority - not to the exclusion of all other priorities but I want someone who feels like home. I want someone who I know that at the end of a long day, is going to meet me in our bed and let me lay my head on his chest while he rubs my back and I trace circles on his chest while we talk about our day. I want to then try to go to sleep only to realize that the passion I feel for this man is going to make sleeping happen awhile later. I want to wake up to the same passionate feeling and after that is satisfied, I want to lie in bed, drink coffee, snuggle while he reads the paper and I write this silly shit. Hours later, we go for a run, a hike or return from breakfast. Then I want to do chores together, maybe even build something around our home. Then I want to gather up our children, pack a healthy lunch and head to the beach. I want to spend the day engaging with the kids, walking the beach and reading in the warm sunshine. I want to return home, make dinner together and then collapse on the couch with the kids and dogs and watch a series we are all interested in...and repeat. Forever. The end.
Of course, I didn’t say all that. I mumbled something about not being sure, I will know it when I find it, loving my life the way it is but being open. Plattitudes of the single woman all designed to keep him interested but really provide him with nothing of any substance. Basically - let’s keep this going until one of us rules the other out.
So this is what I have been doing - keeping options open - committing to nothing and no one - not even myself. I am not open to the above happening because I had that once and it went away and now I feel lost, untethered and afraid a great deal of the time that I will never have that again. How does one move on when one had everything one ever wanted? (Ok, so maybe he wasn’t completely committed and all in - thus the current situation - but the rest of it was there...I swear).
For me, I have done what I have always done - overdone the dating. I have most options open and boundaries galore so I am having fun on my terms and in my time. It was all going very well until I could no longer ignore this growing feeling of emptiness that started off as a minor hunger pain but has now taken on proportions of starvation.
I have no idea what I am doing. Not because I don’t know what I want but because I know exactly what I want but I am terrified to ever have that again or more precisely, that I can’t ever have that again. I am stuck in this in-between state where I know what I want but I lack the power to make that happen in my life. So I have been keeping options open waiting for a sign that one of these suitors is someone that might be an option to satisfy me. However, I have just become another dating consumer that is filling up her online profile inbox with scores of men who are never going to do the job. Which has landed me here - exhausted, spent and feeling hopelessly empty. This has left me baffled because about a month ago, I was really having a fantastic time. But I am no longer. It feels like work. It is hard and every date leaves me feeling more desperate and empty than the one before. Not only because I am trying to fill the void but because I feel totally broken - and every new guy is a reminder of my clear desire which is coupled with my inability to commit to anything.
The vacuous need has come unaffixed to love or commitment or hell even liking. It has thrust me out into a world where I am just wasting a lot of everyone’s time including my own. For whatever reason, I am not ready. I am not recovered enough to love again. I really don’t want it right now as I do not feel capable of holding up my end of that deal.
My continued commitment to dating has left me with this ineffable sadness and emptiness that has become physically painful. And left me wondering what the fuck do I do now? Dating is not fun anymore and sustaining these relationships that are going absolutely nowhere feel like they are sucking the life out of me. I am not attending to anything seriously because each one of them takes just enough out of me to keep me from being able to commit, or feel ready.
So why am I still dating? First and foremost - codependence. I have started “relationships” that I don’t know how to get out of now. I need to clear the decks so to speak but doing that seems like a lot of work. I feel like I have started something and now have to see it through which is about the stupidest thing I have done in a long time. Secondly, I am doing it because it has become a habit. I have been back in the dating world for 5 months and I have become addicted to the swiping and possibilities and the lure of finding what I want in that next swipe. I love the attention and the excitement of the chase. But that is all I am doing - chasing a dream that really kind of became unattainable when Lane left.
But what I am really doing is numbing out because I am terrified that maybe I am not capable of a relationship. Maybe that kind of love and commitment isn’t for me. Maybe I am not worthy, capable and lucky enough to have that in my life. I am afraid that if I opt out of the online dating merry-go-round that I will end up alone. I mean alone forever. That if I stop this compulsive seeking for what I want that I will be effectively giving up this dream, this need, this desire which right now is only leaving me feeling lost, alone and completely empty.
It is not a crisis because crisis implies not knowing what to do. And I know exactly what the answer is...and it is totally simple. I have to accept, trust and abandon. Accept that for whatever reason, I am not ready. Trust that someday when the universe decides I am ready this will change and abandon all notions to the contrary. I have experience on my side here too. My experience has shown me repeatedly that if I am true to Erin, that it all works out and I get exactly what I need. Experience has also taught me that since my pattern of overdoing is just my way of working my shit out - that I should be excited about what is likely just around the corner. My life has shown me over and over again that right after I feel completely lost, alone and empty that I find myself getting exactly what I need. Emptiness appears to be the precursor for me to fulfillment. My only job now is to stop the behavior that makes me feel so void and allow the emptiness its rightful place in my life. It isn’t here as a punishment - it is my greatest teacher. Always has been and perhaps at 49, I can just accept that and allow it to just be.
Ok, I have to stop writing now so that I can go tell the 27 men I have dangling that I am out. Wish me luck and wait for the piece that is to come in the weeks ahead where I tell you how being alone is exactly what I needed.