Unchained by Sara Stansberry
I was on an obscure island in the middle of the Bahamas. A series of planes and watercraft had gotten us to this point today and I was, at last, sitting on the beautiful oversized porch of a rather large bungalow almost in the middle of the ocean. It had been a long day, but the stillness of the air and rush of the cresting waves told me the trip would be worth it.
We were on an extended family vacation - the day had been a flurry – rooms were assigned, groceries and gear unpacked. The kids were all fed and asleep and the house was quiet. I love that place in the day. My brother and I decided to take it to the porch to visit without the risk of waking the whole house. He was in and out, attempting to light a cigar on the electric stove in the kitchen. My brother is not a quiet guy and so I watched from outside while he and his wife exchanged words about the cacophony that had awakened her– I think the smoke alarm might have gone off at one point.
The exchange was fun to watch and I laughed a little under my breath, a part of me grateful I didn’t have to be the explainer - and even more grateful I wasn’t the complainer – right now in a relationship.
Eventually, he emerged from the kitchen, lit cigar in hand. He had fought the stove and won.
Our conversation began as it mostly does – we talked about work, about the kids and the family. We went through the things that were good – and things that were not so good. And then the inevitable question since my divorce almost a year prior… how was my dating life?
It’s a fair ask. Everyone is very curious to know who they’ll be sharing Christmas and Thanksgiving with for the rest of their lives. Plus, he cares. If we’re being honest, he was probably a little worried.
He said he was surprised I wasn’t seeing anyone seriously- he was sure I’d practically be remarried by now. I understood why. My entire teenage and young adult life had been consumed with being in one relationship after another. I’m sure it was strange for my family to watch as I was clearly choosing to remain single. I did a lot of soul searching in the years leading up to my divorce. One thing I discovered was my relationship hopping had less to do with me being in love and more to do with me running from pain - the pain of life, the pain of rejection, and the pain of real love that didn’t work out. I used relationships to medicate. And I wasn’t willing to do that anymore.
Plus, I told him, I am not going to settle.
He asked for an explanation.
I have a list, a set of criteria that should be met before I settle down again. It’s not about finding perfection in someone else. It’s more about me, and knowing who I am and what I want out of life. Knowing that I deserve to be in a healthy relationship – I deserve to be loved well. And knowing that I have a lot of value to add to someone else’s life. I don’t feel guilty about this; I don’t think it’s ostentatious or unreasonable.
This will take time - patience is not really my thing (for those who know me well, you can stop laughing now). But the fact is, I’m doing great on my own, and I’m comfortable keeping it that way until it all happens for me again.
I think everyone out there dating should have a list. Here is mine:
Ha! We began scouring the papers the next morning. ;-)
What’s on your list?
Don’t settle and make it great everyone!