Since the breakup of my fifteen-year relationship, five-and-a-half years ago, I remain living in the past to some degree. I’m aware that as long as my past inhabits my present, I’m essentially still in a relationship, even if it’s predominately virtual and one-sided. I have conversations in my head — the closure and amends we never had a chance to process together; I work out the “hers, mine and ours” unfinished business of the breakup in scenarios in my dreams, I continue to share stories with friends that begin, “When I was with my ex…” and I make promises to myself to never repeat the same mistakes, or expect people to be anything but who they are, not what I wished they’d be, and yes, I include myself in that awareness. This is the legacy of being the person who was left. It takes time. The good news is we are working on redefining our relationship as friends and chosen family.
I’ve done all the work, the letting go, the grieving of the unfulfilled dreams, the what ifs and the why nots, and finally found acceptance and forgiveness. I’ve learned to live alone and live well. Some days I can’t imagine ever giving up my solitary life.
So today, I ask myself, what’s next? I’m ready to say good-bye to the ex and hello to the next. The answer that came is this — I’m going to begin having conversations with my next girlfriend, whoever she is, wherever she is.
Perhaps she’ll read this and be imagining me as well, as I envision her. Adults can have imaginary friends too, can’t we? And, if we’re able to have imaginary friends, why can’t we have an imaginary committed relationship? Call me crazy, but is that too big a leap to take? In an effort to not sound too neurotic, let’s consider it simply as a dress rehearsal for the future.
So begins the first conversation with my next girlfriend…
Hello sweet woman,
Yes, it’s taken me awhile, and I’m finally ready.” Ready for what?” you might ask. There was a time I might have responded, “I’m ready for anything!” Those days have passed. I’ve learned my lessons and I’ve done my due diligence. My life is no longer an experiment. Today I live with intention and whenever possible, make healthy, conscious choices rather than act and regret later. One thing I’m clear on is I’m ready for you.
Now for my dating credentials: I’ve been in both long and short term relationships, I’ve been married and divorced, coupled and single, monogamous and not so much, I’ve been in healthy and codependent relationships, and I’ve been both cheated on and the interloper. Today, for the most part, I know what I want. I’m also a graduate of The Madison Lesbian and Queer Women’s Dating Seminar and Salon. Not once, but twice. I was invited back by the coach for a tune up (h-m-m-m-m, I wonder what that means?).
Following are highlights of what I learned at the seminar:
My take-away from the experience is dating, like most worthwhile endeavors in life, requires preparation, practice, identifying what you want and don’t want, the ability to develop an effective public relations and marketing plan, knowing when you’re ready to date, and most importantly doing what you love and showing up at the places where you can meet others of a like mind.
For me, personally, I learned for the first time in my life, that I’m happy as a single person; I’m not looking for the woman who will “complete me,” and I’m pickier than I’ve ever been. That’s probably a good thing. With age, comes wisdom. I have a life, a life full of myself and as advertised in the dating seminar and the theme of a popular lesbian film, I’m hopeful, “The girl is out there!”
You might ask, “How does that qualify me as a potential date?” The good news is I’ve learned from the past, I live an examined life, and I’m a work in progress. I’ve done years of therapy: individual, family, couples, and substance recovery. I’m ready for you.
Hello, my name is Linda. Here’s a little background about me, and a snapshot of what I’m looking for in a next girlfriend:
Lesbian baby boomer, first-born child, morning person with progressive values and a sense of humor seeks a partner and companion to share the final chapter of our lives. My avocations: I’m an activist and a writer, committed to my community as well as my personal growth. I’m a work in progress.
You’ve gained wisdom by a life well-lived, yet still explore new things with the curiosity of a child; you can access your heart as easily as your opinion and you’re not afraid to express both. You play as hard as you work; you’re willing to give and take and you’re generous with the things that matter most.
Now what’s next? First, I think we need to meet. One of us needs to ask the other out on our first date, and one of us needs to say yes. Okay, I’m ready to take the first step and say good-bye to the ex and hello to the next…
Stay tuned for the next installment of Conversations with My Next Girlfriend.
For further reading about The Madison Lesbian and Queer Women’s Dating Seminar and Salon, read my piece, It’s Never Too Late to Learn How to Date.