If I had a solid relationship with any kind of higher power I would without a doubt chalk this date up to divine intervention. Someone, something out there sent me help. They watched me wallowing, clutching my heart, bargaining with myself to take my next breath and they did me a solid.
It was a Monday. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself.
In what could have been a fit of desperation, or possibly a moment of complete clarity, I reactivated my Tinder account and began the dance between the shame and eagerness that comes from mindlessly swiping past potential suitors on your iPhone.
I spent the weekend before falling apart. Not in a little, “she’s going through some stuff” kind of way, but more of a “holy shit, homegirl needs an intervention” way. I did it all. Binge watched the Netflix shows that crush my heart. Cried until I couldn’t breathe. Texted my ex. Allowed every good memory I had to play over and over in my mind as I told myself I’d never feel joy again.
Monday afternoon I found myself sitting at the dining table, frozen burrito + Instagram in hand, feeling punch drunk from my self-deprecating bender. I opened the app that my people—the young, single, completely fricken confused—love to hate. And that’s the moment I am certain the universe sent me a unicorn.
After a day of digital banter, I found myself sitting across the table in a crowded bar from someone so out of my league I still can’t figure the whole thing out. Insanely good-looking. Incredibly easy to talk to. Our lifestyle choices aligned, making it almost effortless to remain true to myself—an aspect of the dating world that comes with its own basket [read: warehouse] of struggles for me.
If I had a solid relationship with any kind of higher power I would without a doubt chalk this date up to divine intervention. Someone, something out there sent me help. They watched me wallowing, clutching my heart, bargaining with myself to take my next breath and they did me a solid. The big man upstairs sent his people out with a laundry list of things I needed a man to say and made this thing happen.
“Make sure your guy slips into the conversation that he doesn’t want kids. I know it’s just a first date, but she will awkwardly walk on eggshells in anxious anticipating of the moment she has to say she doesn’t want them either.”
“We need good manners, but still a little rough around the edges. Accidental f-bombs will make our girl go nuts.”
“It’s a stretch, but if you’ve got someone who can say ‘I’m not a car guy,’ we’ll sign the papers today!”
And did I mention the insanely good-looking part?
The realist in me (and likely my therapist) says that I knew I was ready to put myself out there. I sat in the mud with my pain for the weekend, and as I washed away the dirt and grime the next morning, I found a cleaner, slightly stronger, little bit more ballsy part of myself that was ready to strut its stuff.
I’ve spent a lifetime keeping the real me under lock and key, protected from being criticized or judged, but also trapped, unable to fully feel the good–safely floating, dodging the pain that comes with living life, avoiding the extreme joy that makes us vulnerable to the ugly crash back down to earth.
But, plot twist, it turns out emotions aren’t the enemy.
Traditionally, the weekend of rolling around in my heartache never would have happened. I would have jumped into a work project, sought out someone else’s problems to help navigate, drank box wine and cleaned out my closet, done just about anything to not feel what it was I was feeling—but I didn’t.
I sat with it and it sucked. It sucked a lot.
But then it stopped.
I found myself standing on the feet that couldn’t hold me up just hours before. I saw something beyond the hurt. I accepted a freaking Tinder date.
Will I get sucked back down again?
Will I thrash in the waves like a pathetic, puffy-eyed rag doll again?
And for a moment, when I was certain I had given up the fight to survive, I felt my body pop above the current and my lungs fill with air.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in preparation for my next love story. This isn’t a story I anticipate going anywhere, really. Let’s not forget that mythical creatures are make-believe. They exist in storybooks—not in the (equally as entertaining, but not nearly as sparkly) life of a 28-year-old, financially challenged, emotionally crippled divorcee living and loving in the wild, Wyoming west.
The story doesn’t need to go beyond here though.
Whether I had a little help from the universe or I made a breakthrough in the way I navigate the path between my head and heart, I felt joy, not pain. I smiled until my cheeks hurt. I felt a little more human and a lot less broken. I gave the “angry, sad + lonely” Spotify playlist a well-deserved break. I had dinner, not once, but twice, with a goddamn unicorn.