Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Lately I have been meditating on my future, what I want to be doing in five years when my daughter is old enough to be out in the world on her own. Where do I want to be? What do I want to be doing? Whom do I want to be doing it with?
What I See
Yesterday, I was sitting in an Irish pub where the TV screen was showing images of Ireland. My mind began to wander and I saw myself walking down the streets, taking in the history, the culture, the stories around me. I was in a small cottage overlooking a lake and I was writing. Writing novels and content for client’s marketing campaigns. I was strolling along a trail watching the waves below me crash onto the beach.
In all these images, I was alone and I was content.
I was doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, without having to consider what someone else wanted. I had no demands placed on me by children, men, or parents. For a time I lived as I wanted. Without guilt. Without shame. Doing what made me happy and writing.
There was no one to judge me. To tell me I can’t. To push me down. To make me feel bad about my decisions in life.
I was alone. I was content.
What I See
Today, I am sitting in Starbucks watching the people around me. Couples holding hands and enjoying their lives as they pass by. A woman, whom I know in passing, is outside the window. I watch her and her boyfriend meet up before coming in. Both of their faces light up at the sight of each other and they are blissfully happy. They kiss, hug, and come in for their morning dose of caffeine.
Jealousy stabs at my heart and loneliness cuts through my soul. I still have a deep desire to be loved by a man for who I am. A man who accepts everything about me and loves me anyway. A man whom, at his touch, I feel joy. I hate this desire because it causes so much pain and I have no way of fixing it. I cannot make a good man love me. Abusive men seem to be lined up around the corner hoping I'll let them do all kinds of things to my body, but that isn't love.
What I Think
They say happiness cannot be found in another person. You have to be happy with yourself before you are worthy of love. You have to love yourself first, before a man will elevate you to the status of relationship material and not just a booty call girl.
Then I think about these so called facts of dating and self help.
Do I want someone who will only love me once I’m healed? Once I’m whole? Once the pain of loneliness and the need to be loved is gone from my heart?
Not really. If a man can’t love me when I need him to, I don’t want one when I don’t. To take this thought further, considering my weight is an obstacle for most men - Do I want a man who refuses to love me as I am today? No. There are no guarantees I will ever heal, be whole, be thin. Even if I achieve such stature, there is always the chance life will hit me across the head with a 2x4 and I will be back in the dark shoving my emotions down with chocolate cake again. Let's face it, life likes to hit hard. Thing is, the man who loves me only when I'm strong, does not want to see me when I'm weak and does not care when I hurt. I was married to that man for over 16 years and he broke me.
Sounds kind of callous? Maybe. Bitter? Yes. I have struggled through a lot of crap on my own. I have become stronger and started to demand better for myself. I have become stronger because of me, not because of a man. I did it alone, with very little support. I Learned when you are the rock people lean on, when you crumble they do not know what to do and find higher ground. It was a hard lesson to learn.
What I Feel
I was destroyed by the one man who was supposed to love me for the rest of my life. I felt unworthy of love because he told me I was and then showed me the proof.
Since he left me, I’ve tried to find a man who would see me, want me, and love me. I found worse. I found men who only saw me as good for one thing and only took from me, never giving back. They did not care about me and some even got pleasure out of being cruel with their words, their actions, their lies, and their empty promises. I attracted selfish men because I was broken and I gave openly without demanding anything in return.
So, I kicked all the men to the curb and moved on. I stepped back to start working on myself.
I have nothing left to give another person besides, my children that is. So making friends is not an option. Family is too far away and it is too complicated to be truly open with them. What daughter wants their parents to know how bad things are, how much she messed up, how difficult life is?
I can’t see myself with a man because I do not believe in them. I do not trust them. I fear them. This realization pains me and I am trying hard not to break down in sobs in the middle of Starbucks. Obviously, I am not as healed and strong as I hoped. At least not yet.
What I See.
I see myself in Paris. Sitting outside a cafe. Drinking Lattes and writing.
I see myself as a successful novelist.
I see myself as a successful content marketing business owner.
I see myself with those who believed in my journey, my ability, my talents, and supported me, helped me get to where I want to be in life. Those who filled me with belief in myself, who did not doubt me, shame me, or put me down. Those who filled my tank by giving to me in return for all I gave to them.
In other words, I see myself alone and content.
This post is from 2015/16. A lot has happened since then.
I stopped dating and now I do not have the patience or energy to bother looking for love. I live alone now as my children have moved out on their own. I am alone. I am content. I do get lonely, however, the stabbing pain is gone, the fear of being alone and unloved is nowhere to be found. My loneliness is manageable by focusing on building my personal brand, developing my reputation, and writing.
I started my content marketing business. When my kids moved out, the business saved my life and it gives me purpose. I've moved downtown Vancouver. I'm already on my way to the dream of living in different countries and writing - two years sooner than planned.
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Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?