So, here I am “dating” again…. And I feel as if it’s almost something to be admitted only in a whisper, to close friends, and with an apology. For the past three weeks, I have been avoiding journaling, contact with my therapist and my sponsor — and am not entirely sure why. I need practice with my recovery in real time relationships and connections. While also wondering: should I spend some time alone? But no, I should not. Technically, my entire life- I feel I have been alone, on my own, seperate– even and especially while in relationships, because I had been so cut off from myself. I crave and require a lot of practice with the behaviors of healthy relating and self love. This way of being is rigorously challenging for me (and also probably my friends–as I am incessantly checking in with them to see what is good, right, true, and fair before saying the uncomfortable but seemingly necessary thing I feel called to say). Catherine Ghoneim Whitney Charlotte NC Impact Design
SO- I have been enjoying getting to know a(nother) man. I literally get high from our interactions, not just moments of physicality, but also relationally-in our convos and texts- our exchanges. He is hysterically fun and funny, curious and engaging – consistently unafraid of not knowing a thing, not understanding, not being right, expert, or in charge. In this way, he differs from most people I have known. He readily says things like: I don’t understand or what do you mean by that, with earnest curiosity and hunger to know more and go deeper…not that fucked up passive aggressive “well, I don’t understand or I am confused because I thought you said that…” intended as a challenge and an invitation to explain myself in a defensive and proving type way- typically resulting in a condemnation of me– for being defensive.
He readily apologized for his contribution to a misunderstanding we had. This is intoxicating, to me – inquiries rooted in genuine curiosity, courage, and humility- a desire to get closer— I have little to no experience with that, in my historical relationships(not counting Sweet Greg). I have no idea what this could be or where or how long it will go, but he is a person I must keep knowing. We have much to learn together. The quality and frequency of our laughter is matched by a growing number of inside jokes and language, which is a goddamm treasure. In my marriage, there were maybe two inside jokes, because there was no “inside”.
I would not label what he and I are doing as “love” in the traditional or Miriam Webster kind of way. But it feels important (in my recovery journey). I am seizing opportunities to exercise a more wholesome brand of love than I had learned and practiced in my first fifty years.
In my developing understanding of the type of love I want to offer and recieve: Love wouldn’t drain me (the majority of the time). It should never make me doubt my worth or standing or place in the relationship. It should NEVER make me feel unsafe, fearful, or insecure. It should not activate my survival instincts. It SHOULD make me feel calm, connected, safe, energized, welcome, valued, needed, wanted.
I am as hungry as I am grateful, for the continued opportunities presented in dating:
-to settle or not settle
-to set boundaries or not set boundaries
-to accept mixed messages or not accept mixed messages
-to speak up or not speak up
-to ask for what I need or accept less than I need
-to stay or to say goodbye
I rarely feel “pride”, but I am incredibly proud of how I am handling myself, my needs, my truths, my heart, my wellness, my recovery, in my dating experiences. I am a work in progress, and each realtionship – no matter how long or brief – is helping me to grow into the human I was always supposed to be. I do believe 100% that nothing is wasted in God’s economy.Much Love,
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