The Quandary That is Dating

When is too soon?

Right away?

One week?

One month?

Two months?

After we file for divorce?

After the divorce is final?

One week after that?

One month after?

Two?

There really is no right answer, which is very frustrating. After a year of being separated, I’ve obviously begun dating, although not as obviously as my ex-husband who was Facebook official with his new girlfriend before he’d even signed the divorce papers. I’m not quite there yet, but I have gone so far as to (gasp) join a dating site. I went out with several comedians, but I worried that if I put my rod in the same pond(metaphorically, of course as I have no rod – fishing or otherwise), I’d get the same kind of fish (which is actually not true at all). I also worried that I’d be the kind of female comic who always dated other comics. I didn’t want a reputation, so I cut it out and started dating on Match.com. That went terribly. Although, I’ve had one or two good dates, and too many stories that found their way into my set. Awful and Boring are the two categories which come to mind when trying to describe my dating history. Unfortunately, it’s a balanced scale.

My standards are possibly unrealistic. I have truly been in love once with someone who was my best friend. When I think about our relationship during the good times, it’s exactly what I want for my next relationship.¬† We couldn’t get enough of each other. We always had fun together. We supported one another. When people looked at us, they knew we were in love. I loved him so much, I thought my heart would burst and I had no need to look at anyone else. It was exciting to be with him. He is still someone I care a lot about, who cares about me. He knows me in a way no one else has before or since. When it came time to part ways, when we finally admitted that we weren’t right for each other, it was very painful because there wasn’t anything *wrong* outside of us being too different to make it work. Nonetheless, when I think about our relationship, I feel happy. I was truly loved by someone I was in love with. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

I knew being married was wrong when I didn’t feel that way. I mourned often that I knew what true love was and I wasn’t in it. I don’t know if it’s realistic to believe or hope that I will find someone I love as much as I loved much as my ex-boyfriend. He and I even had a conversation last winter about how the likelihood of our finding someone else who will be able to be as special in our lives as we were to one another. Can that kind of relationship exist more than once in a lifetime? Yes, of course it can. But, can it exist more than once in a lifetime for me? Honestly, I don’t think so. I hope so, but it’s easier to believe that it won’t because when I reach the end of my life having only had one true love, I won’t be disappointed. I’ll be right. And then I’ll be smug about it, which is one of my favorite feelings anyway.

But if I really decide not to believe it or hope for it, in my heart of hearts, then why date at all? I’ve said it before and I try to believe that I don’t think I’ll find someone, but I don’t think I’m meant to be alone. I don’t really know what to think/feel. I won’t “settle” for something other than wonderful because settling for something less than wonderful was how I found myself unhappily married in the first place. To be clear, my ex husband was not less than wonderful, but what we had together certainly was. I wasted good years of my life on a relationship that made me miserable, and I imagine he feels the same way. We were two good people who joined together in a bad decision.

This past week I’ve been thinking about two men that had always held pretty special places in my heart as guys I had never, for whatever reason, entered into a long-term, monogamous relationship. I was relatively disappointed to discover that one had a serious girlfriend and the other, while happy to hear from me, couldn’t forgive me for getting married.

Reader, I’m not sure if that needs to take some time to sink in for you. He can’t forgive me for getting married? Well, that’s a laugh. I haven’t forgiven myself. Join the club.

In no uncertain terms, but with a very heavy heart, I told him that I hoped he never made a mistake so grievous that someone he deeply cared about was unable to forgive him or move past it. It is surely another level of regret. I continued, saying that despite what he thinks of me or other divorced people, I am so much happier and better for what happened. It’s taken me all year to get here and I don’t need to apologize for that anymore. I like the place that I’m in now, and I would never be HERE if I had been on another trajectory which didn’t include marriage and divorce, depression and recovery, darkness and light. If he really can’t forgive me, that’s fine. But I don’t need another friend who doesn’t have the grace to accept me for who I am now.

It’s the very first time that I owned my mistake in a way that wasn’t full of embarrassment. I also think this was God’s way of clearing my head. Get rid of everything that I once knew so I can stop looking backward. I might have been missing something that right in front of my face the whole time, or will be soon. Maybe God had nothing to do with it, and wasn’t even paying attention and life just turned to be this way. But, it’s much easier and more comforting to believe that God had orchestrated this little heart break in order to get my attention.

I’m not sure what this means for my dating life from here on out. Maybe I should take a break, as was suggested by a friend. Focus on me. Focus on where I’m going and the path I’m taking to get there. But, I don’t like the lonely path. I want someone’s hand to hold.

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One Year in Los Angeles

Ten days after I left my husband in Israel, I packed my car full of all the belongings I could fit, and to be honest, there was still a lot of room.

Susanna8

I drove to Bel Air to stay with my friend Becca for a night and had two meetings planned with people who needed roommates. April 16th, 2012, was a warm day and I wore a sundress to meet my possible future roommates. They were three girls: Melanie, Bel and Jenna. They seemed very nice and I was on my best behavior, which, for those of you who know me, is kind of a challenge. The apartment was fully furnished and the room looked clean, as did the bathroom (a facade, I assure you). I got a good vibe from all three girls and I made a good enough impression that they agreed to let me move in the next day. As it turns out, we were all in need of what the other had to offer (a room and a rent check respectively). I went to a show that night with Becca and ran into another old friend, Adam. I was still pretty sensitive about the separation/divorce and it was my first outing in public as an unmarried/unattached woman.

I didn’t die of being in public and the next morning, I woke up and drove to my new home. I blew up my air mattress and hung up my clothes in the closet. I organized my toiletries and I went shopping for groceries. I had no bookshelf, no desk, no chair, no furniture in my room outside of a plastic tub and my blow up mattress. I was 30 years old and truly starting over.

I spent four months looking for work and there were times when there were glimmers of hope. I even worked a month as a waitress, much to my pride’s chagrin. I got hired, finally, in July as a Communication’s Specialist for SEIU 721. I had no idea what I would be doing. 8 months later, I’m very happy and finding a lot of satisfaction with the way I spend my daytime hours.

IMG_2246My parents funded the four months I spent as an unemployed aspiring comedian in Los Angeles without expectations of repayment (right Dad?). I don’t know why my parents did it. After I made a total mess of my life, they let me out of their sights and then indulged me by supporting me, monetarily and emotionally. I think it turned out okay. But, there aren’t enough ways to express my gratitude for their kindness, their understanding and their unwavering support of the choices I have made, even when they have been wrong or when they haven’t agreed with them. And I can’t shake the disbelief that God saw it fit to make ME their child. There are few who are as lucky as I am.

garrett and susannaBy October, I had gotten back on my feet, more or less and an opportunity presented itself. I moved in with one of my best friends from childhood, a man who is like a brother to me, Garrett Kirby. I happen to be blessed with a group of people who have known me far too long, which means they know all my secrets, and they remember how ugly I was as a kid, and the terrible outfits I used to wear. Fortunately, we were all pretty ugly and the clothes were representative of the times and not my bad fashion sense. Garrett really is like family to me and I think we were able to console one another in our shared misfortunes. We were both grieving something and who better to be yourself with than someone who has known you forever, will tell you when you’re wrong and will make you laugh when you feel like crying (or are crying uncontrollably on the couch because a character on Survivor was selfless and it just touched you emotionally). We have come so far since October. Part of my recovery is due to living with a best friend.

The only “problem” is that we play YES AND with our lives.

“You know what we should do? We should buy scooters so we can scoot to bars instead of walking!”

“YES! And we should get Fanny Packs with boom boxes so we can play music while we scoot!”

“YES! And we should get Metro cards so we can take the bus to other parts of town while we scoot!”

“YES! And we should have a Scooter Pack name so everyone knows who we are! SCOONIES!”

“YES! And we should have a SCOONIES theme song! Zoot Scoot Riot!”

You can see where this goes. I’m not complaining. I’m grateful because I know with all the struggles I’ve had over the last year, it’s also been filled with a lot of wonderful things.

And, there is something bigger driving me. I want to be an entertainer. I want to write, act and tell jokes. Nothing is in my way except for me.

mebunny

And I channel that little girl every day.

One Year Down, The Rest of My Life To Go

Saturday was a year since I left Ben.

I spent part of the day reflecting on the path I’ve traveled since April 6th, 2012, what I’ve undertaken, how I’ve dealt with the choices I made, where I am now and how I’ve gotten here.

I completely started over. I moved to a new city, where I didn’t know anyone so I could live, at least in the immediate present, without those around me knowing anything more than what I chose to tell them. That was one of the things that rescued me: anonymity. At the beginning, it was just too hard to face everyone. It might not make sense, but the sympathy of friends and family was too hard to bear at times. I began a new career working in communications for a union. I’m not a teacher anymore and it’s just bizarre because so much of my identity was centered around that aspect of my life. I decided to pursue a dream I’ve had since high school: performing stand up comedy. I’ve seen success, but I’m not an overnight hit apparently. It’s only made me want to work harder and do more and go further. If this is all I have, if this is all I ever do, if I can be creative for a living, I will feel satisfied.

It truly is possible to start over, though daunting, I guess. But, in hindsight, it absolutely saved me. I could never go back to being the person I was before, not with a divorce. Maybe it shouldn’t be anything, but it felt (and still feels) like it means everything. When I look at pictures of myself before I was married, I think: those were the good times. That was when I didn’t know what misery or real heart ache was. I miss that ignorance so much, it’s almost unbearable at times. But, the truth is, we can bear all things and I do and I move on. Doing comedy probably helped to save me as well. It reminded me that I’m not a failure, even though I failed at one very big thing. It has also taught me to trust myself and trust my instincts, even though I don’t think I’ve really earned my trust back.

The last year was filled with a lot of pain. Most of it was self-inflicted and all of it in the heart. I punished myself for failing because I wanted to feel all of it. I didn’t want to be taken by surprise six months, two years or a decade down the road by buried pain and I knew that if I didn’t just experience the loss, that I’d be one of those women with serious baggage and issues. I did not want to be a person with problems she didn’t acknowledge. Regardless of the assurances of my friends that I made the right choice, which I knew anyway, and regardless of them admonishing me for the blame I continue to (unnecessarily) put on myself, I can’t seem to let it go.

I’m hoping the adage that time heals all wounds is right. And now I’m to the point that I can wait. I know that life will get better. I’ve had a year to teach me that the pain will lessen and it will become less important with every new experience I have. There was a time in the beginning when I never thought I’d make it to where I am now. I don’t cry every day, although when the sadness hits me, it doesn’t pull any punches. I’m not sure if I believe that I will find love again, but I’m not unwilling to try. I am still angry at myself, but I no longer feel guilty, which is a huge burden lifted and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed any longer. I’ve learned to own it. The last lesson will be forgiveness.

Real HeadshotAll that having been said, I am so much better than I thought I would be. I am at the beginning of a great career and I am no longer dependent on anyone financially. I truly feel happiness most of the time and I have faith and hope that everything will get better. I have been blessed beyond what I deserve with supportive friends, loving family and new experiences. I have been given an opportunity to be someone different and pursue a new life.

The last two years of my late 20s were wasted. This year was filled with light and joy and renewal and opportunity. I’m living the rest of my life to honor the two years that I was miserable, the worst version of myself. One year down, the rest of my life to go.