A few years ago, I was engaged to a perfect man. At least that is what I believed he was. Everything I had ever wanted was wrapped up in one parcel, looks, humour, intelligence, kindness and for once, I was not the one doing the chasing. I was proposed to. I was told how beautiful our wedding would be, at the Johannesburg Country Club with flowers everywhere. It was the happiest I had ever been.
Then came the day when the calls and messages stopped. Zero contact, zero interest. Blocked on Facebook and WhatsApp, number blocked. I did not know whether the man I loved was dead or alive.
Long story short, he was just fine but had moved on and didn’t have it in him to say goodbye. It happens. Bygones. But I was shattered. Couldn’t get out of bed and face the world, shattered. I remember waiting that year at Bearfest for him to show up so that I could scream at him and then just hold him. And then I waited for him to walk in on Christmas Eve, which was meant to have been our engagement party, so that, again, I could scream at him and then give him the ring I’d had engraved. But he never did call or show up. I knew he was alive as I had gotten one text message saying, “It’s not you, it’s me, I need time”.
I spent three years waiting for answers. And I kept telling myself that as soon as I could close that chapter, my life would go on and I could start planning again. And I had found myself in a loop. My friends lost patience with me. I turned down many invitations because something would just remind me of the ex and I would bring the group down. The ex. It took me a long time to call him that. I was too busy clinging to hope.
I received the news early this year that late in 2017, my once perfect man left this planet at his own hand. It was over. The conversation would never happen. I thought this would bring closure but instead, it brought on a tornado of emotion. I stopped writing. I stopped engaging in life. My business showed signs of failing. How could I ever devote myself to anyone that way again? How could I trust? I would be that old queen in the corner flat with the dog that barks at everyone.
It was not until I was forced into a date with a stranger that the shell started to crack. Something in these new big sad eyes made the ice around my heart melt and I slowly started living again.
Why do we do that? Why do we allow ourselves to punish ourselves with ghosts of the past? Why do we deny ourselves the courage to be happy?
Courage to be happy? Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. It takes balls to be happy. It’s a choice. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”.
Dr Brené Brown states that courage begins with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. Those are hard words to hear sometimes. Are you Brave enough to let another human see you, complete with scars and imperfections?
PS, things with the beautiful sad eyes did not work out. Turns out he was not ready to be seen…and that’s ok. I wish him well. But I’m not prepared to hide any longer.
Craig Stadler is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.