Second Firsts: Heart-Hurt and Healing

 

The Universe has not always been kind to me in regard to romantic connections.  A college boyfriend took it upon himself and sleep around during our six-month courtship. Tim and I enjoyed a strong and passionate love for 12 years before… well…you know.  Upon re-entering the dating pool at 34, I enjoyed a handful of first dates, one enjoyable yet unattached relationship, and a myriad of online bores, creeps and man-children eager for female attention yet unable to fully connect.

After a hiatus over the winter to focus on myself, my career, and the tiny humans in my constant care, I jumped back into the online-dating world in early February.  Amongst the forest of matches and messages, one man, with kind, cocoa-colored eyes and adorable dimples, stood out.  We made a date to FaceTime for four days later, that Wednesday.

The next day he texted requesting an earlier date.  I admitted that I was already in my flannel robe and settled in for the evening.  He didn’t care.  We talked and laughed for well over an hour, like old friends catching up on life events.  The tone and rhythm of his voice warm and resonant.  We wrapped up the call in unison.  A surreal connection formed in moments.

Timing quickly made itself a strong and undeniable presence in our dynamic.  He would fly out for vacation a few days after our first call.  I flew to Florida with my kids a few days later.  Between flights and kids and activities we would steal away in quiet moments for video calls and texts, eager to catch the heady dopamine rush of new connection.  The chemistry that was forming was intense and unexpected.  It was crazy. Completely out of character for my normally cautious heart.  It felt great.

Our first in-person meeting was planned for three weeks after our first conversation.  I drove to his small city two hours away and planned to meet him at his office building.  He greeted me at the front door, his presence familiar and warm.  A man I had just met, yet seemingly had known forever.  He showed me his office, with exposed brick, and his framed photography on the walls.  Nag Champa burning next to a small windowsill Bonsai.  Joni Mitchel on the stereo.  It went very well.  I’ll leave it at that.

Over the next weeks we communicated daily.  The mental-emotional-physical-spiritual resonance I found with him shocked me, and left me off my guard.  On an over-night date we enjoyed Vietnamese, craft beer, and a shared dark sense of humor.  We walked in step, arms linked, fingers clasped, talking about futures while side-stepping puddles.  He shared the complications of his life.  A man in free-fall, navigating life’s transitions, as I had been a year prior.  I ignored the red flags he openly waved.  His arms felt like home.

He ended it with a text 8 weeks in.  An offer of friendship, a wish for my “great day”, and a winking emoji.  An anticlimactic and disappointing ending to an otherwise thrilling and meaningful relationship.  In many ways it came as a relief, as I processed the slow fade he had been displaying for the previous week or more.  Much of life comes down to time and place, and neither were working in our favor.  My first post-loss heart-hurt.  My emotional scar-tissue left raw and throbbing.

I can openly admit now that I felt love for the man.  The rush of oxytocin clouding my generally sound judgment.  I do not regret the connection that we shared, nor do I question the feelings I developed for him.  I have experienced the deepest depths of loss and trauma, yet I am still fully capable of opening my heart to another man.  I am capable of connection and laughter and growth.  I can experience a significant emotional set-back, and still enjoy the first warm day of Spring.

I wish nothing but peace and happiness for this man.  I cannot fault him for the timing and complexities of life.  I hope to remain his friend and continue our unique connection through a new lens.  I am unsure of what the future will hold (as we all should be).  I chose to move forward with a renewed sense of growth and self-awareness.

I’m grateful for the brief memories.

I look forward to what new love experience life may bring.

I now fully realize I’m ready for it.

Onwards.

 

 

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