My Summer Rewind: An Ode to Self-Care 12-“Only U”

I went on my first “date” six weeks after Timile passed away. There was no love connection nor was it the purpose. I moved back to New York in late November 2012 and had little time or bandwidth to grieve. Most of my time and energy was focused on what would become seven court appearances for custody and visitation of my daughter. It was a necessary distraction and informal acclimation of my new normal.

A couple of months later, I reconnected with an old friend. She’d recently filed for divorce and was in a similar space. We were in our mid-twenties; many of our friends and peers began long-term careers, were newlyweds, and/or didn’t have children. At 26 years old, most would be hard-pressed to find someone their age to talk to who could relate to the kind of losses my friend and I did; it was a needed distraction. We had an unspoken history between us years before, but we went our separate ways without ever telling the other how we felt. We had a moment in which the end of whatever it was catalyzed this very site. I’ll write about it later.

It is difficult to tell the story of Single Dadventure without the first word of the phrase. I didn’t know what it was or how it looked. By the end of 2012, the internet made dating very different from the last time I was in a position to court someone. In spite of how little I have divulged in a public forum, some of my favorite essays and musings have come from this aspect of life outside of fatherhood.

I used to get asked “How is dating?” a lot. I could see how one could and would want to know what this part of life looks like. I didn’t feel a need to share. But if you caught me in person, I could assure you, you would be highly entertained.

The women who shared and displayed a mutual interest always inquired about how I felt about dating. I would tell the truth. On the way home from my first time out in January 2012, I made an agreement with myself that I would never say I’m not ready. I felt if I did, it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, I could block my own blessings and spoke it into existence. I went into situations and circumstances with little expectations and it freed me.

My oath to myself did free me because I never looked to anyone to fill a void. Was I at all ready for a new relationship? Fuck nah. But I was willing to try. No matter how it turned out, I had already experienced the worst that could happen, so why not?

In many instances, Timile Brown became an elephant in the room. At some point or another, whomever brought her as a point of contention or dare I say insecurity. Outside of how I became a single father, I hardly ever talked about her to other women. I know no one wants to hear someone they are interested go on and on or refer to instances with someone else. With the exception of two women, the ones who didn’t verbally say something, I could see and hear it in their body language and tone.

Last year, I was had a conversation with someone I’d hung out with for a few weeks. I don’t remember how the conversation started; but I told the lady one of the reasons I was so jaded when it came to courtship was because I grew exhausted having to tell people I was interested in “There is no elephant in the room on my end. If there is, it’s you.”

“Those are some insecure bitches. That is someone with no self-confidence and you don’t need that. You leave them alone” she said. It was a sigh of relief. Both of us knew out interaction was temporary, and her words implied “You don’t have to worry about that with me.” It meant there are women out there who could handle this and there is more for me to learn.

You attract who you currently are. Even with my pact, I still projected I wasn’t ready. I could go down the list of everyone, ever over the last eight years: no one was ready. I got myself into situations with people that were easy. Sometimes they lived out of town, had a child, or were in relationships. Everyone had something else going on, which meant I got to have the fun parts of a relationship without the obligation or expectations. Without obligation or expectation, there was little-to-no intimacy. A lack of intimacy meant no one could get close and I could keep my walls up with extraordinarily little hurt or collateral damage to myself and other parties.

I didn’t and don’t have a phobia of intimacy or commitment; I was emotionally unavailable.

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