A blog by Dr. Joy Well
Over the years, I amassed quite an eclectic selection of past-tense romantic contacts who seemed to pop up just when I was settling into a confident singles vibe stride of setting boundaries and loving myself unrelentingly.
It’s like they sensed my self-work, peace and calm and sought to shake me up. Perhaps they noticed my calm, and wanted to reclaim some space in my head free of charge.
Maybe you’re familiar.
Maybe you’ve gotten to a point of decided readiness — glazed up, smelling good, and fresh with hot photos and matching underwear (or socks).... then crickets. It’s like a drought occurs.
“Hello!”, you say proudly. “Look at me world. I’m hydrating, started work on my summer body, caught up on notes, cleaned my place, and I haven’t expressed any road rage in 72 hrs”
But the moment... you’re feeling blah and “in your feelings”, or desperate/lonely, scrolling aimlessly, swiping right just for the heck of it, or just not in a stable, steady headspace, then here comes the ghosts of dating past, barreling toward you - whether they sound like; “here in town for the weekend” or “just checking on you” and my least fav “wyd”.
That was me. Nearly every holiday or break, I was an active participant in hot mess alley - getting my hopes up over temporary passers by. Or lying to myself saying “it’s ok to have a chat buddy”. It wasn’t really. Deep down I knew it was going nowhere.
Sometimes I wanted to prove my inner gut wrong. I was hopeful. But, hopeful and healthy is the goal, not hopeful and haunted.
The fact is... sometimes we really do know when someone should get a automatic “return this one to sender” at our border. We know that the rogue text message, call, etc., doesn’t need to be read, discussed, deciphered, or responded to.
We know the feeling, hopefully, of solid knowing, where we are secure and unwavering and unapologetic in our respect for not just the “now” self, but also for the person we are becoming.
Old School Lilith Fair crooner “Sarah McLachan” released an album called “Fumbling toward Ecstasy”. I was writing this blog I heard those three words in my head.
As I “fumble” toward ecstasy, the many lessons learned have provided me some super cool nuggets I will pass along to you too:
👉🏾When the past comes knocking, I am not required to answer.
👉🏾The ex is just fine, I’ve learned. Truly they are. They don’t need an obligatory text from me. Their bff, family and all the people in their circle are just fine. And even if they are struggling, I can send them positive vibes from way over here... I’m not responsible for swooping in like the flying dog from Neverending Story to save them, nor am I obliged to respond to their communication.
￼👉🏾I’m not “pick me” girl singing outside the window of the Disney movie longing to be fulfilled. I make choices everyday that shape my destiny. Waiting to be chosen is a choice. I choose to be an active part of the process of life.
👉🏾Some interactions we feel anxiety over... are no brainers. They came and went. Literally. I will not waste headspace or talk space. My time and attention are too valuable.
✨✨✨✨If I’m going to overanalyze, may it be over how to get to 7 figures by 40 or what my dream vacation is and how I can go for free. ✨✨✨
👉🏾Dating isn’t a game of winners and losers.
If we treat it like a game where winning is great sex or a return text or a call before bed,... and losing is “oops I got ghosted again” or “yeah this is my 149th epic fail first date” or even “he didn’t call me today”.:. then we miss ourselves and focus only on the performance, not the total experience of being alive and getting to simply experience, be hopeful, and walk in our joy.
👉🏾Acknowledge growth. I no longer wait by the phone or converse endlessly until he says he has to go, for example. I am ok with cutting the convo and saying “let’s do this again soon hopefully”.
👉🏾If I can’t be authentic in my whole self, then the charade will be exhausting to keep up.
20 years ago I read the book “The Rules”. It had specific rules to follow when dating. One time I followed some of them, and they actually worked for a month. But, it wasn’t my jam. It’s exhausting to tango, chess, be present, be evasive, seem interested, and then act like I don’t give a damn.
I implore you to walk in your joy without ceasing. Yeah, along the way we get hurt. But, we also smile and laugh and scream with ecstasy. Remember when you fell down as a kid on the playground? You got back up, even when it hurt, and ran your heart out.
As long as we have breath in our body, we can still get back up. We can love. We can heal. We can take breaks. We can say yes. We can say no. We will make mistakes and so will others in our lives.
Therefore, walk in your #joy. Anything that’s not lifegiving or that’s hurtful or small minded, gets a heaping warm cup of NO. 💕
Cheers to all of us.
This post was hand-crafted by Dr. Joy Well - mental health clinician, inner intimacy soul specialist, professor, and avid researcher is one of the quintessential experts on the connection between the mind, body, and immune system. Her doctoral work explored the experiences of women of color living with autoimmune diseases and how they function and experience the medical community and beyond. Once a shy, small-town girl with big dreams, Joy has found peace and purpose working with women of all ages to develop a fierce, faith-filled identity, personally and professionally. She is a clinician and entrepreneur in mental health private practice, seeing all ages, backgrounds, and genders. In her spare time, she enjoys music, movies, writing, and getting into mischief with friends. You can find Dr. Joy on social media @captivatingjoy, and on the best podcast on the planet, Challenge Yo Self (@challenge.courage), available now on all podcast platforms - Listen Now