Holding My Hand Over a Burning Stove
Why I’ve never given up on dating.
We all know the adage about knowing better than to put your hand back on a burning stove. We’re all warned about what will happen. We should all know better.
There’s a problem with that, though. That stove is mine. More than that, I lit that flame. I let it get hot to the point where it burned me when I touched it.
Last year, I had a relationship that ended in a rather mortifying manner. I’ve gone on some of the weirdest and worst first dates. I’ve dated men who treated me with contempt and dismissal. I’ve melted the skin right off my hand touching that stove. It’s been a bit of pain.
Several times I’ve wanted to not just turn off the stove but to rip it out of the wall, drag it to the corner and wait for someone to haul it away. Get it away from me.
I realized something, though.
I don’t want to reduce my life to a tragic appliance sitting unwanted in my yard for everyone to drive by and stare at it and wonder what the hell happened.
I can tell you what the hell happened. Shit. Shit happened. More shit will probably happen to me in my life. It’s the way life goes.
My attitude toward dating has been piss poor at best. Indeed, it has been the most annoying and eye roll inducing thing you can do with your time, especially if it involves a phone app.
I have considered walking away so many times, I’ve lost count. But I won’t. Because then the bad guys win. I root for the underdog. And right now, I’m the underdog.
Hiding myself away from men and the world is a form of personal cowardice. It’s not this way for everyone but it holds true for me. Some people bow out because their emotional well being is at risk. I get that. I really do.
For me, staying in this shit show and getting back up every time takes a certain amount of personal bravery that I am working hard as hell to harness and hold onto.
I’m getting tougher. Stronger, more aware. I’m becoming less tolerant of other people’s shit. I am calmer than I have been. It’s a peace that comes with testing my resiliency and getting a passing grade. It’s a choice not to live in fear of people or my future.
I’m surprised to find I’ve lost the fear when I thought I would be most afraid. I know that stove is hot. So I’m keeping my hand above it. I’m letting it hover and feeling the heat coming off of it. It reminds me I can still feel.
So I’ll keep at it. Each day the pendulum swings a little less far in each direction. I revel in the joy more and wave off the crap. I want the joy.
Vulnerability takes on many shapes. It’s not just being open and authentic and hoping for acceptance. I’m learning that you can be both vulnerable and strong. Wearing your vulnerability like damn party dress and standing there for others to admire how pretty it is can actually be pretty fun.