Friday, July 27, 2007

Beyond the other side of comfort

A comment I often hear from women healing from encounters with men of the disorderly kind is, I'm never dating again.

My response is always, "never say never".

Dating is a natural process in the scheme of getting to know someone to determine how well you like them. It begins out neutral, 'seems interesting', and can rev-up to a commitment to have the next date, or it can downgear into the realization that this was the last date.

Dating is outside my comfort zone. In my twenties and later in my forties when I became single again, dating was not something I did with ease. My hungry heart and poor boundaries meant I always thought the date should go faster, reveal more, mean more. I kept searching for the more and ignoring the purpose of the date -- to discern. I leaped into it without caring one twit about what the other person needed as I scrambled to have my needs met by their presence in my life.

If I liked someone enough to go on the first date, I leaped to conclusions, ignoring my better judgement and my safety. I mistook my at-risk behaviours and excused them under the guise of "I'm a risk taker. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained." or, "I'm a hopeless romantic." and blinded myself to the truth of my at-risk behaviours.

Forget the cardinal rule, Safety First. I'd take someone else's being crazy about me, to mean I was crazy about them -- I mean, I should be right? He's a man. He wants me. Game. Set. Match. In my enthusiasm to have my hungry heart fed through someone else's adulation, I stepped in where even fools dared to tread because I was living in the moment and throwing all caution to the wind! I was a relationship junkie. Addicted to my need to fix myself up by finding my value in someone else's opinion of me.

Leaping into relationship had nothing to do with discernment. Nothing to do with honesty. And definitely nothing to do with finding a partner.

Leaping on blind faith had everything to do with the hormone charged adrenalin push of putting myself at risk unnecessarily. I was unconcerned about who they really were, just as I was unconcerned about how we 'fit' together. I just wanted the feeling of their admiration. Their chase. Their push into my boundaries and the feeling of relief I got in my capitulation. Or, conversely, I wanted the thrill of the hunt. I wanted to be the huntress, chasing after the one who got away because I told myself, they had the answer I was looking for.

I was not discerning. I couldn't be. I didn't know who I was, what I wanted, what I needed. I listened to their words. Ignored their actions. I listened to my fears of 'not having a man', of being alone and lonely, of my hungry heart's yearning, and let my fear propel me into risky situations.

I was a dating disaster. Which probably explains why when I did meet a man who asked me to marry him on our first date, I fell so hard. My sense of relief in finally meeting someone with as poor impulse control as I had overrode my common sense and what little I knew about keeping myself safe.

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal, When I heed the signs, I expand into the space of where I'm at. Confident in my ability to live outside my comfort zone -- not in my danger zone.

Dating is outside my comfort zone. It's not a danger zone if I step lightly and ease myself gently into the waters. Where my strength and courage comes to play is in my conscious ability to hold myself steady against the current. Not giving into its pull, but rather letting the waters rush around me as I become accustomed to where I'm at as I determine, is this where I want to be.

One date is an invitation to the next. No matter the pull of the water, I am safe from being pulled under when I determine the speed of my immersion. If the waters are too fast, I give myself time to build my strength. Or I retreat. I have choice. I exercise it at will.

Four years ago, when first I was released from the relationship disaster with the conman who promised to love me 'til death do us part, and lied about his intent, I knew the person I had to learn to trust the most in order to trust anyone else again, was myself. I wasn't ready for dating. I still had much to learn about me.

Today, I am confident in my ability to trust myself. I trust myself to be responsible for me and I trust others to be responsible for themselves.

Living freely means I do what is loving and healing and caring of me. To be true to myself, my principles, values and beliefs. To not let someone else's need to ignore my No sway me from my course. Saying No is my right. As Gavin de Becker writes in "Protecting the Gift", Declining to hear No is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it."

Once upon a time, I met a man who lied. I woke up to the truth and found myself alive and well on the road of life. In my journey, I will meet many men. Whether or not they lie, or deceive. Whether or not they fall in love at first sight, will not matter to my journey. I can't trust another until I trust myself. Today, I trust myself to know what is right for me. I trust myself to turn up, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome.

In trusting myself, I risk stepping to the other side of my comfort zone confident in my ability to be safe within me. In taking the time to get to know someone else, I give myself the grace of time to become confident in my next steps. Whatever the direction they take, I know they will be the best steps for me.

I've come a long way.

May you come a long way in your journey into yourself. May you find the freedom to expand into the place you're at, confident in your ability to live outside your comfort zone.

Life is filled with limitless possibilities beyond the other side of comfort!

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