It was another Saturday night without my daughter.
In the past, weekends without her were torture.
In truth, the silence in the house is still hard almost two years later. Walking by her empty room? It still feels unfair. Missing out on taking her to dance class? It feels like I'm being a disobedient mother. I should be there -- it's my role, my job.
But from the start, weekends without her felt as if a big blaring horn were going off announcing: "It's another weekend and Laura is still single, after her divorce. It's another Saturday night and Laura is not going out on a date this time."
After my ex and I decided to separate, my weekends without my daughter have always been full but there was always this underlying tension blaring, "Will there be a date this weekend, or not?"
I think when we first separated, I did what most people do who are newly separated: I ran around looking for dates and a way to avoid being alone. The "aloneness" felt suffocating. There was no worse feeling than that. Most of the time, I have sucked it up and over the past two years there have been dates but not millions. No one has taken residence in my heart -- minus one guy who got close enough to reserve a spot in my brain, but nothing became of it.
I wondered why so many of my divorced friends were frantically and frenetically committing to people while I seemed to be not meeting anyone of interest.
It had to be me.
But it wasn't. Not at all.
A month ago, a man I met through my old online dating profile told me he had just separated from his ex a few months ago. "I don't like being alone, but I am," he said, and it struck me.
I am not him anymore.
I am not waiting to fill my weekends up with dates.
I am not gritting my teeth as Saturday night approaches wondering why I have not met anyone I liked enough yet to commit to.
I am not frantically and frenetically committing to people because the truth is: I don't need anyone anymore.
As my ex moved on in front of my eyes, it was awkward but inevitable. The hardest part is knowing a stranger is in my daughter's life, but I too have moved on -- even if I am single.
I have stopped needing.
In the past, I needed to be loved. I needed someone to say, "You're special, sexy, beautiful and smart."
"You're worth something."
I don't need to hear phrases and ego-boosting speech. I don't need someone to validate my value as a human or to make my existence special.
When I hit thirty I felt it: the clock was ticking and god help me, was I ever going to get married? I needed someone to love me so I would know that I was worth something.
News flash: that doesn't work. That never, ever EVER works!
Someone saying "I do" did not make me realize that I was a person of worth because I had to believe that myself.
It took the person who was supposed to love me to not only reject me as a person but also completely shut me out, not love me, not be kind to me and not want me to realize that I am worthy.
I never needed anyone to tell me what I now know to be true: I am a worthwhile human being. A flawed, eccentric and loving human being who doesn't need someone to wake me up today and say, "You are special."
When the good witch tells Dorothy she has always had what she needed to go home, it's so true. I had everything inside of me already to love myself but I wasn't doing my job. I wasn't clicking my heels and saying, "Laura you are worth more than this" and walking my heart and head back "home." I was meandering needily through Oz waiting for someone to do the work for me. Waiting for someone to make it so I was alright when the reality was I was always alright. I was more than alright.
And that is the greatest gift.
I had no date on a Saturday night and I did not care because I had friends, family, errands, shopping, work and a life to live. I am so busy living my life that I have no need for someone to fill me up. I am not a gas tank and neither is my heart: my heart is full because I love easily and generously for my friends and family. My heart is full because I finally realize that what I had was not good and I went out an invested in myself -- the person who had been waiting a very long time to be invested in.
I cashed, deposited and put interest in me. In my daughter. In our life together.
So when the next Saturday night rolls around and if there's no date that's fine by me. I want someone-- I have a pulse of course, and romance and sex matter to me-- but I don't need someone to tell me I am worthy.
I've already put the highest bid on who I am and who I will become and chances are that when the right man does come around, he will be eager to invest in such high stock.
Because I matter-- and so do you.
All you need to do is place your bets on the most worthy and deserving heart -- which is you -- and I promise you the interest will rise.