When I realized that I had to start over again and build a whole new life for myself, I viewed my goals as a three-legged stool focused on health, wealth, and relationships. If I could achieve satisfaction with all three of those, I figured, I could live out the rest of however many days I had left in relative contentment. Health, my life coach pointed out to me, didn’t just mean physical health, which had improved significantly in recent years, it meant mental health as well, for which I saw her.
Until we mutually realized that I needed to see a cognitive behavioral therapist, as my sister had, and probably should have from the beginning.
Wealth-wise, I went back to my hometown, and quickly got a certificate which a series of academics had convinced me would allow me to begin an exciting new career in law, using my mind to solve complex problems and perform work that extensively required reading and writing, my strengths. My writing is so strong, apparently, that I won an essay-writing scholarship in that program, giving me the money to return to the area of the country I love, which I saw as a sign that I was poised to begin my work in my new chosen field.
Until I learned that in order to do so, I had to figuratively pay dues doing a job one could hire a high school student to do, making less than I’ve made in almost a decade, and that I’m bad at besides, having gotten my certificate to avoid that kind of work in the first place.
Likewise, my plan for relationships initially seemed sound – I would join “Meetup Groups” for people who were interested in film and public speaking, as I am, and meet somebody through that. While I was initially discouraged to discover that this meant meeting a lot of people far beyond the point, age-wise, of being promising romantic companions, there were a few young ladies who looked promising, and I attended Meetup after Meetup, hoping I would get the opportunity to continue the brief conversations I’d struck up with them, ever after that elusive “spark” that would give me the confidence to ask them out. Last night we went to see a biopic about Amy Winehouse, and while discovering that the gal I most wanted to see again wasn’t going to be there was disappointing, I learned something afterward that was more discouraging:
I found myself amidst a group of “film geeks,” who I’ve always thought of as my peers, the kind of people I hung out with in college, who I assumed I would always be most comfortable with, and… I didn’t fit in.
As sad as Amy Winehouse’s story is, I couldn’t help envying her a little, because the film reminded me of the essential part of my sense of aimlessness and not belonging in this weird chapter of my life, the feeling that I am totally alone. While I wouldn’t wish Amy’s fate on my worst enemy, Amy had a clear value as a human being that was cut short – the tragedy comes from the fact that we know what she was capable of and speculate on what she could have done and who she could have been, had she been giving more time to be that. This drew her kind of people to her, and they wanted her around to share it. With me, I never even got that far. There are a handful of people in the world who know what I am good for, but I am nowhere near making any use of my talents to any benefit to anyone. No, I take that back – the girl I mentor from my Toastmasters club knows, reaps the benefit, and further reminds me of what this last Meetup made clear: the idea that I can and should find companionship with the people I think I should find it with may not be correct, leaving me at a loss as to where to look next.
Case in point, I met a guy through the Meetup whose personality matched mine really well. Within one week of our really hitting it off, I misspoke and put him off. Though I patched things up with him and he’s willing to continue our friendship, I get the same vibe from him that I got from my life coach towards the end – despite liking me, I felt like she saw me as a handful, perhaps more trouble than I was worth at this point in her professional life. With this new friend, I feel like whether the friendship continues means just as little to him as losing me as a client meant to my life coach, because the connection is not there. And truth be known, I have many other friends like him myself – hate to say it, but been there, done that.
By contrast, I can’t help thinking about my ex and the girl I currently mentor, who are totally different from me, and who I am thus excited to spend time with. The girl I mentor is far too young to have any romantic possibilities with me, but her perspective is so different from mine, I feel like we mutually benefit from knowing one another. This leaves me desperately wanting at least the opportunity to meet and connect with others who are different from me, learning from them and hopefully giving them something worthwhile in exchange also, but the problem is thatI have no idea where I would find them. Do I go to bars, far outside of my comfort zone, even though I don’t drink, and might end up slinking out with my tail between my legs, like Morrissey? I tried online dating, but even my old life coach doesn’t fully buy into the value of doing that, as you just can’t “know” a person through their resume, IMO. As I discussed with another friend today, who’s going through a divorce, every successful relationship she or I have had came from some serendipitous place – not from some contrived meeting of designated, like-minded people (she and I just worked together briefly, for example). Everybody we knew with a successful relationship met their significant other similarly – person who worked at a place they always went, friend of friends that they ended up at the same party with, people they went to school with, etc. The girl I mentor even said, upon seeing my online dating profile, that she probably wouldn’t have any interest in meeting me if that profile was the first way she encountered me. She likes me a great deal now, though, just as my ex (polar opposite) still does (we remain friends), and just as many of my friends do.
As a result, I’m at a loss as to what to do next. The friend I met with today, ironically, suggested Tinder, and though my life coach recently ruled that out on her blog, I’m thinking a final blitz of that and the other free online dating sites I’ve been avoiding (plentyoffish, shaadi.com, Muslima.com, Ishker) might be my last ditch effort at contrived companionship. My friend also felt that if I just did me, work on me (which means continuing my therapy), and get happy, the right person might just appear on her own. Considering my track record thus far, I’m not optimistic, but I don’t have it in me to quit, and unlike Amy Winehouse, I have a lot of life left to live. Why not?