Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for a unicorn.
I’ve heard of them. I’ve seen them in cartoons. There are even people who dress up as them for Halloween. But do they really exist?
I’d like to think so…and I actually do believe so.
Whenever we open our hearts to hope and to love we open ourselves to possibility. We open our souls to a connection with another human that could be greater and more intimate than we’ve yet experienced in our lives. When we hope, we open ourselves up to magic. I’ve seen this magic. I’ve seen this invisible thread that binds a couple together through the years. Not often, but I have witnessed it. And it gives me little nudges to keep my heart open to the possibility of love.
But there’s another side to it. When we open ourselves to hope and love we also open ourselves to pain, rejection, and disappointment. The heartache we can feel from a lost relationship can be so great that the temptation to shut our hearts off from further heartache sounds like sweet relief.
I did this.
I shut off my heart when I was 18. My heart felt so trampled on from my wounded home life that I whispered deep down in the musty dark corners of my wounded heart, no man will hurt me again. It was a promise I made to myself that was so subtle that I hardly knew I had made it. But I felt the effects of throughout my entire 20s.
If you asked me what I wanted I would’ve told you I wanted to get married and have kids. But any time a guy would come close to me I would shut down, immediately put myself in the friend zone, assume I wasn’t pretty enough, run away, or push him away faster than I had time to process what I was doing. It was such a quick impulse and coming from a place so far away in the recesses of my locked up heart that I was mystified by my behavior. While also mystified that I couldn’t get a date.
Throughout the entire decade of my 20s I dated two men. One guy was great but just not for me. And the other guy… well the other guy was emotionally unavailable. To put it kindly; it was a trainwreck. I fell for about 12 other emotionally unavailable men in my 20s that I never even got to date one with (God’s overwhelming mercy in my life).
Last year I went through a life changing leadership course, and one of the things I discovered was my shut down heart. Over the course of 6 months I did a lot of re-learning, and working through my past and realized I had a choice to make.
Was love worth the risk of pain? In my head the answer was easy: of course it is. All you need is love… Love is the answer, right? It always is. But my timid heart fought. A lot.
Last August I made the distinct decision to allow myself to love again. And it was like a switch was flipped. The girl who dated two guys in her entire 20s (that’s 10 years y’all) suddenly had men knocking down her doors. It was like someone took the pendulum from one side and slammed it with rocket force to the other side. I didn’t know what to do with the attention but I decided to be open and to risk and be open to love! (How romantic of me).
I dated some incredible guys and some lost puppies. Guys that just wanted to make out, and guys who followed me on social media and decided I was their princess (only to be disappointed when they found out my life is more messy in real life than in the edited photos I put on Instagram). I considered dating a guy who wanted me to give up my dreams for his (glad I didn’t do that), and got reconnected with a guy I was crazy about in high school. He promised me the world, but flaked out once we were in the same city.
The pattern felt like this: hoping, hurting, hoping, hurting, hoping…maybe love…hurting.
To say the least there have been ups and downs. Blissful moments of connection that I am forever grateful for, and moments of heartache where my hand clung to my chest because the pain felt tangible.
Have you seen the movie He’s Not that into You ? I told my mom that I feel like Gigi, the main character who keeps putting herself out there and stumbling and looking into things and getting hurt. After again she assumes there’s something there with this guy she likes and he is baffled she says ‘I may do stupid things sometimes, but at least I’m putting myself out there… at least I care’. That is how I have felt this year.
People have said that my standards are too high, and that what I’m waiting for is for perfection. But I disagree. I’m not looking for perfect. I’m waiting for my partner. My best friend. A man that wants to do life together deeply. A man with integrity and character. A man who loves God and loves people. A man that has a vision for his life. A man that is on board with my vision to empower women. I want a partner that I can support and who can support me.
After a few blunders this year, I met a guy who embodied many of these characteristics. A guy worth waiting for. We became friends, and I started hoping that there would be something more. To me there was more. Finally someone that I was excited about and who had these qualities. I waited and hoped and waited and hoped. And nothing. Still friends. I kept hoping he just needed more time…? Then he started dating someone else and I was so disappointed.
All I kept thinking was “when is it going to be my turn,” and “I’m sick of feeling hurt and disappointed.” Maybe it’s better just to close my heart off again, because I won’t have a relationship but at least I won’t feel sad and hurt as much. And right about now that sounds really good.
But I was journaling and talking to God about it the other day, and I felt like He gently reminded me, “Love is worth it. It is always worth the risk.” And even if this guy I liked doesn’t like me back, I learned and saw in him the type of man I am waiting for and who is worth waiting for.
I am not waiting for an imaginary being. I am waiting for my unicorn. And unicorns exist. I’ve seen them.