What the hell am I doing here? I am half-heartbreak, half-mess. I don’t belong on a perfectly pleasant date with a kind man.
I spent the entire morning before the date trying not to cry and thinking: I should NOT be doing this again. But the person I want didn’t want to keep me, and I have a personal creed about not wanting anyone who doesn’t want me back.
Only my heart doesn’t give a flying fuck about my personal creed.
I don’t want to be doing this dating thing. I want natural connection, chemistry, and magic. But the kind that shifts into sharing ordinary days made extraordinary by love. I know dating is the scary portal to what I want, but I’m filled with grief and anxiety that I am facing this journey again after the one I thought would be the last.
I didn’t feel ready because I’m not ready. But I still haven’t yet learned to trust that inner voice that says, Wait. Not when I feel like that’s all I’ve ever done.
Wait for anyone to notice me. Wait for anyone to truly see me, my whole heart, and not just themselves reflected back in my eyes. Wait for the ones I love to love me back. Wait for them to leave — because I’ve seen them going before they’ve even packed their bags. Wait for the pain and grief to flood in, to drown me, to go right back out again. Wait to crush. To fall. To crash. To burn. To be destroyed. To rise. Wait for love to choose me. Waiting, always waiting.
Then, there are the voices telling us that we should try. Take a chance. Get out there a little. They are wise, loving voices who don’t want to see us shrink into ourselves because we still remember the sharp pain of our hearts breaking from the last time we tried, took a chance, and got out there a little.
But when we’re not emotionally available, we should stay home and keep ourselves to ourselves instead of going out to break an available person’s heart. Put up a warning sign, a hazard label, little orange cones. We shouldn’t make someone laugh until they love us — not when we can’t love them back.
We have to BE ready, not want to be ready. There’s a world of difference. It’s the difference between healing our own hearts and breaking someone else’s. I’m not here to break anyone.
I’m here to wait. To turn down sweet smiles and kind invitations. To go home and keep myself to myself until I’ve worn those razor edges smooth, until I’m unlikely to cut myself on my past or slice anyone else’s heart to ribbons on my present.
I’m waiting now. Not for a sign. For healing. To be sure that I’m not self-soothing with a heart I don’t plan to keep. To waste no one else’s time, including my own.
Sometimes, the most challenging thing we’ll ever do is to do nothing at all. To not date because we’re not ready. To not move forward because we’re still trying to feel what we’re feeling right now.
Of course, we’re not really doing nothing. We’re healing. We’re giving ourselves time. Hopefully, we’re working on all this emotional baggage we’re toting around. We’re learning to love our lives again and to dream new dreams.
One day, we will be ready. It may even happen so gradually that we don’t realize it until we’re returning a smile or accepting an invitation without thinking twice about it and then counting the minutes until we’ll see them again. I have loved and lost before and lived to love and lose again — and while that last part still stings, it means that I can love again.
We don’t need to practice on unsuspecting hearts, holding dress rehearsals until we meet the one we want to keep. Too many do this already, and the world is positively littered with broken hearts who were only ever used as substitutes until something better came along. We can choose not to play, not to go back out there until our hearts are ready. To keep ourselves to ourselves until we are available to love and be loved.
Until then, we need to put up a warning sign, a hazard label, little orange cones. We shouldn’t be on a first date that we already know will be the last.
This article was originally published on PS I Love You. Relationships Now.