I recently found myself in the throes of a “Sunday kind of love.” What I mean by that is I was seeing a man for several months, and not a single conversation was had about “what we were doing,” but every Sunday, like clockwork, we were together. I was being cooked for, massaged, cuddled, and kept in good and easy company.
Our combined work schedules prevented time together from being more often than once a week, but that worked for me. Plus, knowing someone wanted to spend their rare day off with me made it seem, to me, to be something special.
For months, I darted around the question “Where is this going?” because truthfully, I was terrified to mess up what had become something I eagerly anticipated every week. Eventually he met my family, knew my roommate, took me out on real dates, shared his fears and dreams with me, listened to mine, and would talk about taking day trips and weekend trips together. We were eating popsicles in bed listening to Drake, chasing each other around the grocery store, and sharing those kind of kisses that I genuinely remember wishing could last forever.
In my state of paralysis, I continued to play the role of apathetic, go-with-the-flow- girl, and I played it well. My friends pleaded with me to get on the same page with him and bring up “the talk,” knowing I had a sensitive nature that was easily wounded. I wanted to bring it up, to try working up the nerve to ask those dreaded questions, but every time I saw him, I couldn’t. One look into his eyes, one moment in his embrace, I simply lost my nerve.
I remember listening to a relationship expert advocating for an outlaw on unspoken feelings. He compared not sharing your real feelings with someone you care about to a copout, as serious as avoiding a doctor when you know there could be something seriously wrong with your health.
“You’re afraid they’re going to tell you something you don’t want to hear,” he said. “But isn’t it still better to know, than to go on wondering?”
I agreed, wholeheartedly. But I think my subconscious somehow kept me from giving all of myself to him, sensing uneasiness that my heart and head tried to push down and ignore.
He had left his phone at my place one night, and I had plans to drop it off at the restaurant where he worked, a convenient three minute drive from where I lived. But sadly, my curiosity got the best of me, and I did what any slightly neurotic, anxiety-ridden girl searching for certainty would do. I “slid to unlock.” No passcode? No problem.
Thirty minutes later, I was sitting on the floor with the wind knocked out of me, scrolling through multiple conversations with girls he had hooked up with – some only weeks earlier, some repeatedly, some probably a one night stand. Some who had left belongings at his house. Some who he saw when he was out of town for work.
With a pit the size of a basketball in my stomach, I started putting two and two together. This was all in your head, Emily. You have no right to be upset. This is modern dating.
I am extremely sensitive by nature. One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott , shared a piece of life advice that reads,
“Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift; and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive.”
I took much comfort in that. Maybe it was normal for my Sunday lover to do what he did, maybe anyone else may not have felt it as much as I did, but I sure felt it.
The weeks that followed the ‘phone incident’ were a strain – both to my sanity and emotional well-being. Luckily, no stranger to heartache, I derived a toolkit of small havens providing temporary, and eventually lasting, relief. Here are the ones I’d like to share with you.
1. Buy cute pajamas.
Undoubtedly, the worst and hardest days have been Sundays. So, in addition to making sure my Sundays are chalk-full of exciting plans, I end the night in a very cute matching set of pajamas I bought after the ‘phone incident’ that make me feel dainty and pretty. I light a candle, turn on my rock salt lamp, pour a glass of wine, pick up a book, and breathe. I have found this to be very helpful.
2. Talk about it.
Not to the grocery clerk or the bank teller (which was tempting for me.) Talk about it to people who will remind you of who you are, because a situation like mine made me doubt myself, A LOT. Talk about it with people who will not necessarily take your side, but will remind you of the good in people, and assure you everything will be okay. DO NOT move on from it like it never happened, even if you don’t necessarily feel sad out the gate. I think feeling your feelings makes you strong. I have always thought that.
3. Pick up a hobby.
Mine was reading. I am the kind of person who buys three books in one sitting off of amazon, only to let them sit on a shelf and essentially rot there. Since the ‘phone incident,’ I am almost finished with a book called Carry On, Warrior which I am not ashamed to say has empowered me beyond measure and given me permission to love myself.
You will not feel like it (I certainly didn’t), but do it anyways. Find an endorphin release that you enjoy. Kickboxing was a lifesaver. Imagining his face on the receiving end of my roundhouse kick was pretty satisfying, not gonna lie.
5. Don’t lose your passion.
I have always been afraid to become so wrapped up in any kind of relationship that I lose myself. My job kept me busy while I was “with” this man, and it has continued to do so. I lost a little bit of gumption for a week or so, completely unmotivated, and would just sit and my desk, eat, and stare. But eventually I regained my energy and fondness for work. Note: this is not a suggestion to throw yourself back into work in order to distract. As a reporter, my articles would probably have been a tinge depressing if I had chosen to channel all my energy there. It’s all about balance, people. You will get there, just hang on.