Do you know that feeling when you wake up the morning after having had too much to drink and making out with a guy? Or sleeping with a guy?
Actually, as I think of my list of “regular” readers and commenters, I doubt any of you actually know what I’m talking about. So instead, imagine the morning after a really horrible binge. That sort of shame and discomfort and wanting to take it all back.
That’s what I’m feeling this morning. It’s what I felt last night upon returning from dinner and drinks with a guy from church. To clarify, I did not sleep with him. Or even kiss him.
I was emotionally intimate.
It is very, very rare (given my history) for me to be comfortable around a guy – physically or emotionally. I have been used and abused in both respects and so to let a guy in is difficult. But from the first time we went out a week ago, I felt fairly comfortable letting him in to some of the stuff I’m struggling with and he’s done the same. (To be fair, I have known this guy for over a year, so it’s not like I’m just telling my story to any ol’ guy on the street.)
We started out going for a run last night and talking about our training and keeping it surface level. We move to psychology (he’s in a Master’s of Christian Counseling program) and spirituality. We go out to dinner, deciding on a place where I can take advantage of a salad bar. He, knowing that I have an eating disorder, makes no comment on the fact that I chose a salad, no dressing, for dinner after a run. I actually appreciate this tremendously, as the last thing I need is a babysitter and I’d rather choose something I’m comfortable with and that fits in my meal plan than go outside my comfort zone and be an emotional wreck for the rest of our time together. But I digress.
After dinner, we move venues to a Mexican restaurant and sit on the porch drinking beers. The conversation shifts into more heart matters. We talk about our walks of faith, how we wound up where we are now. We talk about addiction and our responsibility to the Kingdom of God. We talk about how terribly hopeless the whole bit of recovery would be without knowing Christ. We talk about our dreams of helping others walk through their own addictions when we’re recovered. We talk about the steps, about where we are in our respective recoveries, about how far we have come and how far we have to go.
Around midnight, we realize how late it’s getting, he drops me at my car and we part ways with a hug and a promise to get together again. I am doing that stupid girly grin thing all the way home, until I lay down in bed and finally let it process.
Oh shit. What have I done? Did I really say that? What must he be thinking?
We talked about this in my counseling a month or two ago – how scared I am of intimacy and vulnerability with another human being. Of actually letting someone see me. And so after about 5 minutes of freaking out and wondering how I can never ever see this person again, I called it for what it was: Scared. Vulnerable. Really, really, really freaking scared.
There is something horrible and terrifying about letting someone see the darkest parts of you. Something horrible and terrifying about sharing hopes and fears you have for the future. Something horrible and terrifying about having another human see all of this – and still want to continue seeing you. Somehow, it would have been so much more comfortable if at the end of the night, we’d just done a fist bump and said, “See ya ’round” with no sense that he wanted to see me again.
But that’s not how the night ended, and as usual, I find myself wanting to run from this – from intimacy and from people really seeing me for who I am and caring even so. It’s an established pattern in my life by this point – the word vomit of my inner heart, quickly followed by running swiftly in the opposite direction where I never have to look this person in the eye again. I felt that urge to run swiftly as I laid in bed last night, but instead simply prayed.
I thanked God for the gift of having someone to talk to about these things, even if the aftermath is terrifying. I prayed for strength and courage to continue on the road to recovery. I prayed for this guy’s strength and courage on his own road. And I even said a short prayer acknowledging that whatever the heck this was turning into, it was all in God’s hands.
Lord help me, I may have just re-entered the dating world.