This relationship was negligent at best, abusive at worst. I would sit with myself and not say a word, filling the silence with television, movies, video games, and other meaningless unfulfilling distractions. Radio was the one media with something worth saying, but then I usually only listened when I was driving. I saved it for when I had nothing else to do.
I didn't make myself feel appreciated. I prioritized other relationships with women, friends, and family. I made excuses for not finding time together, saying I was too busy because of work or school. But we both knew the truth: I didn't enjoy spending time with myself.
I never took myself out on dates. I rarely treated myself to a high quality home cooked meal. I usually did not buy myself gifts. I did not write myself love notes or verbally appreciate and acknowledge myself. My physical relationship was pretty good, we exercise a healthy amount and stay fit. The love-making wasn't anything to write home about.
I wrote some really nasty, vile, hurtful things to myself when I struck bottom in February. Two months later, reflecting upon that journal entry I considered how far my relationship had deteriorated.
Upon relating the abridged version of this realization and other fears about solo travel in Europe to my dear friend Miriam, she introduced me to the Artist's Way. Although as a means to an end, this book provides a great structure to reinvigorate the relationship with yourself. I found a name for the person I was dating: Artist Andrew. (I may update the name as I get to know him better.) This book offered me hope for saving the relationship. I thrive in structured environments, so this was a godsend.
Part of the structure is to take yourself on a date every week (the Artist's Date). No one else allowed. The substance of the date is flexible, but the intention is clear: a block of time, exclusively with yourself, planned in advance, given high priority, with the intention of fostering feelings of love.
Today, I took myself out on a date. The first one of my first week on the Artist's Way. (My Artist's week begins on Tuesdays.) We went exploring in Rome.
What a marvelous time! I spent four hours exploring the archaeological site next to the Colosseum. I reveled in the meandering paths, the ruins aesthetic, the beautiful gardens, the Mediterranean trees, the summer air and ocean breeze, the sun on my skin. I helped out some tourists. I people watched -- families, couples, honeymooners, solo travelers, groups of friends, classes, tour groups. I talked with myself (journaling), wrote words of affirmation and appreciation. Photos taken were sometimes touristy sometimes artistic and sometimes silly.
Charming guy, isn't he?
I treated myself to a nice lunch nearby, sitting outside in what was certainly not a bargain restaurant. I made small talk with the waitress.
After a leisurely few hours on the computer (not part of the date, we chose to put it on pause for a time), I treated myself to gelato and a visit to the Colosseum. I wandered the grounds, learned interested facts, and marveled at the artifacts on exhibit.
Turns out Artist Andrew is a pretty nice guy. He delights in many aspects of life, enjoys comfortable silences, tries to be kind to others, and is a loving person. He has good taste in food. He even has an artistic side and takes decent photographs.
I'm pretty excited. He's promising. This may turn into a beautiful relationship.
(Photos from the day to be posted soon…)