“Why are you bothering?” Sue said.
“You have us,” Tracy chimed in. “You have a beautiful house. Financial security. Why do you need another man in your life who’ll only end up disappointing you?”
I sipped my chardonnay, then took another bite of my salad. Sue and Tracy had been around the block and back, dating after their divorces. Now in their late fifties, they were enjoying their singleness and couldn’t understand why I was still struggling. They thought I should be done with the whole lot of them, men that is, and live my life.
My relationship with Steve ended before the summer started. It had already run its course long before it expired, but I hung on anyway until I no longer could. Until I realized I couldn’t change someone who wanted to stay the same, a man who didn’t want to acknowledge his addiction and how it was holding him back.
My friends were right. I had all the things they said I did. I had a great life. But the thing about having a great life is that I wanted to share it with someone. The right someone. At 58, and after two marriages and a long-term relationship, I still hadn’t found him.
Unlike my friends, in the back of my mind, I still believed he was out there. The problem was my energy for looking for him was low. Disappointing as it was to me, I felt I was starting to lose hope.
I’ve never been a hopeless person. My faith in God always gave me the confidence I needed to believe, even in the worst of times, that my life would always get better. That opportunity — whether a new job, a new guy, or a new attitude — would be just around the corner. I had the trust I needed in God to provide for me. My hope, although somewhat deflated, floated me forward, lifting me above fear and uncertainty and into the realm of possibility.
So, despite what my friends advised me, which was from their hearts and well-intended, I started to date again, this time with the guidance of a dating consultant and strategist. My friends’ choice, though right for them, was not for me. “Don’t get your hopes up,” Sue cautioned me.
My first date was with a really nice guy. He was kind, smart, and interesting. He showed an interest in me, flying down from his home in northern California to meet me. We went out two times, but after the second, I realized I wasn’t attracted to him.
I was disappointed and surprised when a slight episode of grief set in. Not so much because it wasn’t going to work out between us but because the experience took me one step further away from the long-term relationship I was hoping would work out but didn’t. It was really over.
When I was done crying, something miraculous happened — I felt better. Energized, in fact. Despite the relationship not moving forward, I was going to. My next dating experience was with a guy I was really attracted to, a guy I found interesting, and one I wanted to get to know better. Our first date was fun, our second even better. My energy level rose yet again.
But it wasn’t because anything in my life had changed. I was still single. I still went to bed at night alone. I still got invited to events solo, which is what happened when I arrived in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming for my summer vacation, a place I travel to periodically, and where I went shortly after meeting that cute, new dating prospect of mine.
Friends had invited me to attend a musical festival in the area. Feeling confident given my recent dating experiences, one which ended cordially, the other in its early stages, I invited a man I knew from the community who had lost his wife a year back. I thought he would enjoy the party, so I gave him a call and asked if he would be interested in joining me. He said yes.
I went without any expectations but found I really enjoyed his company. I think he liked being with me just as much because we spent three days at the music festival together. We’ve been talking and texting ever since, even though I’m now back home. My energy level reached a new height, and I felt joyful.
Again, nothing in my life had changed. I remained single, I slept in the middle of my bed by myself, and I went out socially, uncoupled. Yet I felt better than I had in a long time. I had two men in my life who I liked and respected and was open to seeing where I was headed with either one. I was confident that whatever happened, even if nothing, that I was better for having met them.
So when I went out on a date with a third guy following my trip, another super nice guy, I wasn’t afraid to tell him I didn’t think a relationship was in the cards for us. Although I liked him, I didn’t believe we had enough in common to grow into a couple, and wasn’t afraid to tell him how I felt. I hoped he would understand, which he did.
And that’s when I realized why I had started to feel better, to have more energy, despite nothing in my life having had changed. It was the existence of hope. Hope that I would feel better following my breakup. Hope that I could find the courage to always speak my mind. Hope that I would one day meet a true partner. And most importantly, hope that no matter how much resistance I faced in my romantic life, or in any part of my life for that matter, that I could find the strength in myself, powered by God, to move forward.
The 1998 movie starring Sandra Bullock as a divorcée suggests “Hope Floats.” Indeed, hope is an emotion that has a physical manifestation. It floats us up into the ranges of limitless possibility, energizing and lifting our spirit into the realms of serenity and joy. It’s a great place to be.
If you would like to learn more about how to improve your life through an approach of feeding the whole person, body, soul, and spirit, follow me on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and Medium. If you would like to work with me, schedule a session today.
Tonyah Dee has studied the Bible and wisdom traditions of the world for the last 30 years and teaches about finding ways to increase inner strength, stability, and confidence through practicing spiritual disciplines and healthy habits daily. Tonyah is a nutritionist, registered dietitian (R.D.), and earned her B.S. from Loma Linda University. She also holds certifications in Christ-centered life coaching, equine therapy, and meditation. Tonyah has been published in Scary Mommy, MSN, The Mighty, Mantra Wellness, CoveyClub, Thrive Global. Follow Tonyah on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Medium.