Sometimes you have to let one thing end before the next can begin, my horoscope read one day. Yeah, I thought to myself, taking a deep breath. I do need to let one thing end.

I ended my relationship of 8 years (or he did, we both did. Whatever) but not just that. I stopped hanging on to the idea that we might get back together. And, somehow that moment that I feared so much didn’t seem so scary. I felt an odd sense of peace. I could stop trying so hard to please someone else. I could actually think about what I want and what I need. You know what? I felt happier than I have been in a long time. It’s like I lost some Candace over the past three years and I got to rediscover that cool girl I once was. I found myself enjoying life more than I thought possible. Work felt better. My friendships looked brighter. My home and mind felt clearer. I could only describe it as feeling like life was on the upswing. I found my smiley face again.

The very next day I was out with friends and to my surprise that other door opened. The. Very. Next. Day! I connected with someone who made me forget about my ex all evening. I found myself excited about dating again and not at all terrified (OK maybe a little bit terrified). I realized my first time back out there doesn’t have to be a high pressure, terrifying match.com hook up. It can be with someone who makes me feel so at ease and whom I’ve admired for a long time and felt a connection with.

And this guy makes me want to smile all the time. The way he calls me “C.” The way he immediately changed his profile photo to one I took. The way he played it straight in email, saying there are no other “amazing, cute girls named Candace. Yeah, I just wrote that.” (OMG!) and “I’m quite fond of you, C.” (Swoon!)

Before you think I’m jumping in too quick – and believe me, that was my concern, too – I will tell you that I had a last session with my therapist. She gave me the all clear to start dating again. She said I didn’t need to spend more time mourning my last relationship because I’d been doing that over the last year. She said she heard the happiness in my voice and saw the lightness in my body language. She said I learned what went wrong in my last relationship and she has no doubt I’ll recognize the signs in a new one. I will also tell you that Love Interest and I haven’t gone out yet or even talked on the phone. We’re going slow.

So, here goes. One foot in front of the other. Big smile on my face and “Have a Little Faith in Me,” playing on repeat. Did I mention huge, giddy smiles?

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