“Hello, Bonnie, party of ONE.”
Today I am in the beautiful city of Charleston, exploring. This is not something I necessarily would have done in the past — wander around on my own in a city I’ve never visited before. I am introverted and self-conscious.
It would probably behoove me to do more research, but I am actually really enjoying a blind approach to exploration. I drove downtown, I found a parking deck, and I just started walking. (The shopping scene is off the charts, by the way.)
I am tackling a couple of fears or anxieties during this trip.
1) I am wearing an off the shoulder shirt. No big deal unless you aren’t in love with your body and you feel exposed; I am forcing myself to continue to embrace the progress I’ve made in repairing my physical body.
And, 2) I am sitting in a quaint little downtown cafe eating alone. “Hello, Bonnie, party of one.”
I was secretly a shy girl most of my life. I worked hard to be invisible and to stand behind my more outgoing friends. I would not go through the drive through and speak to the speaker until I was at least 20. I did not call Domino’s because it stressed me out to speak to a stranger. College me would rather go hungry than sit alone to eat anywhere in public. And, for the most part, I haven’t even had to think about this type of social anxiety for a good stretch because for the past 23 years I’ve had a kid available to join me wherever I go. Although, thanks in large part to my ex-husband, who can be a social butterfly, and becoming a teacher to the most judgmental age of children, teenagers, I have tackled a good bit of this type of anxiety. However, it can still rise quickly in me.
I have always daydreamed about visiting fun cities with the courage to find a cafe where I could sit, write, and reflect what I’ve taken in.
Check. I am living that little daydream right now!!
The fear of being alone also held me in my marriage, even when it was clear that alone might be the better option.
Cue the line the children chanted at Hook in Peter Pan before he was swallowed by the crocodile, “Old! Alone! Done for!” This is the way I thought of being alone inside the chaotic desperation to find a way to make my marriage work.
Long before I was willing to admit it, mostly because it felt like giving up, failing, and breaking a commitment made before God, I could see that living in the toxic environment we had unwittingly created inside our marriage was destroying every piece of ME-ness and was also hindering my ex’s recovery efforts.
When I finally did file for divorce I couldn’t even admit it was what I wanted, I just wanted the legal separation that is accompanied with filing, I didn’t have to actually go through with it, right?? My heart was broken through the initial recovery process and allowing my dream of repairing my family with the man I had chosen and who had chosen me, to die, with me as murderer, it was more than I wanted to bear (where is the ostrich emoji???).
Oh how I wish I could go back and talk to past me. I would tell her that she is more than capable of supporting herself and loving herself. That she will be more than ok.
She. Will. Thrive.
I would tell myself that I would get to live in my dream house — an old house built in 1909. I would tell myself that living with my daughter like roommates may very well be one of the most fun times of my life. I would tell myself that I really do love, LOVE living on my own.
And, I would also tell myself that as it turns out,
I CAN budget.
I CAN buy a house on my own.
I CAN paint in a studio with other artists.
I CAN sell my art.
I CAN write and have the courage to send my words into the universe.
I CAN date and survive the lessons I learn about myself through that process.
I CAN believe in love again.
I CAN fix a lawn mower on my own.
I CAN depend on friends for help.
I CAN travel . . .
I CAN I CAN I CAN.
How is that for living out loud?