Nearly six weeks into my suddenly single status change, life has evened out a bit and this new normal is starting to feel, well, "normal". Which happens to be WAY better than the whole "shattered into a million pieces" feeling it started out as.
The truth is, the despair didn't stick around as long as I feared it might. And actually, after the initial shock wore off, it turns out that the prevailing feeling I had wasn't really despair at all. Hurt, yes. Embarassment, you betcha. Disappoinment? In spades. And underneath it all was an tinge of something I couldn't quite put my finger on--until one morning I woke up in my brand new bed, looked at the empty space beside me, and let out a long sigh...of relief.
You see, I knew that Tim wasn't my lobster.
Sex advice columnist Dan Savage is fond of saying that "there is no settling down without settling for", and I believe that's true.
So in my usual style, I weighed all the pros and cons (ad nauseam, ask my friends and family) and decided that despite what he couldn't give me, I was willing to settle for what he could. Maybe he was lacking a few of the traits on my top ten wish list, but maybe I was aiming too high. Maybe, I reasoned, you don't get two chances at great love in a single lifetime. Maybe, at 40 years old, you just don't have the same choices you might have had earlier in life. Maybe close enough would be good enough, and if I decided it could be enough, it would be. So I settled.
I settled right back into eating too much as well. Food, after all, was something we had in common. It was an easy way for us to spend time together, to do something we both enjoyed. Conversational lulls seem natural when your mouth is full of ice cream. Silences don't seem as awkward when they are filled with the sound of cracking crabs legs and sizzling porter house steaks. Wondering what you'll have to talk about at all after the wedding is over seems immaterial over 6 flavors of cake on your plate.
If I had been paying attention, I might have noticed that some of the food-crazy I'd gotten very good at controlling was creeping its way back into my life. When I found myself wolfing down a 20 piece McNugget in a parking lot on my way home from the office, I probably should have realized that all was not right with the world. The day I put three Mounds bars in my desk drawer "just in case" should have been a clue. When I stood in the light of the refrigerator late at night and ate the leftovers I'd packed for lunch the next day right out of the tupperware, it was a red flag that I shouldn't have ignored. I chocked it all up to the anxiety that comes with planing a wedding. Maybe I didn't realize that "wedding stress" and "stress about the wedding" were two very different animals, that the former was about choosing dresses and flowers and invitations, and the latter was about who you chose to stand beside you that day.
In the end, every concession I made to be with Tim was mitigated by the idea that he was a good, kind, honorable man...but it turns out that he wasn't ANY of those things. And he was a lot of things I didn't know he was. Like a liar. And probably a cheater (a claim I make after a forensic analysis of his cell phone records and an anonymous phone call to someone named "Dawn" who was a party to 252 text messages in a month). And a colossal pussy. So when he left the way he did, he went from 5 out of 10 to -3 out of 10. There just wasn't anything to miss.
Though at first it felt like I'd been shot in the chest, it didn't take me long to realize that I had actually dodged the bullet on this one. Love shouldn't be something you have to talk yourself into. Relationships aren't always easy, but they shouldn't be that hard either.
Six weeks have passed, and when someone asks me how I'm feeling I can say I'm fine--and actually mean it most of the time. I've made peace with the food again, found some of the control I'd slowly been losing and my weight is back on the way down. Life may not be great yet, but right now it really is OK.
And all things considered, that's something I can settle for.
An interesting week
3 weeks ago