Even though life is so much better than it was for me in VA, there are still tough days. I am sad at times and still crave a certain kind of connection. Yet I have to say, I would rather be struggling emotionally here in Sioux Falls then back in Danville any day! In South Dakota, there are only a few places the past shows up, which are in my mind and on social media. I have a choice for both of those triggering items. Thoughts provide an opportunity to be examined, challenged and reworked to be helpful rather than damaging. Some days I am better than others in transforming thoughts. Social media can actually be more difficult to manage, so I just block the people that my thoughts like to take hold of and punish myself with the past. That at least keeps the highlight reels of some lives from popping up daily.
I’d rather feel sad and lonely here for multiple reasons! There is zero probability of me actually running into a ghost from my past here while living my daily life. If I were to see anyone from Danville here we would have a conversation about this great place and travel. It is truly remarkable at the reduction of sadness that I feel because I no longer run into any reminder of my past here. Even the positive memories had a sense of loss connected to them in VA for me. Now the loss is replaced with possibility. The slate is so clean here! I have become rather skilled at going out alone to experience new things. I remember being a child and having my mom encouraging me to attend things by saying, “Go! You might just have a good time and meet someone.” So I go and see what happens.
Doing things alone is refreshing. I take myself out to dinner and “we” have a great time. Yet dinner goes pretty quick. Even if I pause to look around the restaurant and watch people, it still goes faster than it would with someone sitting with me. This is an opportune moment when thoughts can spin out of control carrying negative and damaging messages. Moving through those thoughts is getting easier, but sometimes it does prompt me to finish my meal quickly. My best defense is to move my body. That way my mind has something else to think about. Focusing on the weather, while paying attention to the sights outside soothes to me and unplugs the mind. Taking myself out to listen to music is interesting as well. I have met more people standing around at the music festivals and small venues than any place else. There are always people who stand and listen during these type of events. They are designed for listeners and well, dancers too.
Doing things alone provides the opportunity for me to free myself from all kinds of mental trash! Doing solo activities brings all the 13-year-old fears of not being good enough or cool enough to have friends to the surface. It is almost as though they are invited and demand the front row seat of my mind. I combat them with riding my streamer adorned bike often. I figure the best way to combat the child of my mind is to ride a bike like a child.
I take the time to dress up for self-dates due to another mom message I remember, “If you look good, you will feel good.” When the 13-year-old in me calms down, I can relax and enjoy the moment. Going solo provides the space to blend in with the surroundings and truly watch others in action. Initially, people may notice I am alone and that I am near them. Yet, in a matter of moments, I become white noise to them as they return to their conversation. That is what we all do when we are with friends, go on and have our discussions as if we can’t be heard. Most of the time your debates go unnoticed because everyone around you is doing the same. However, the solo person only has the conversation in their head to contend with while they listen to all that is happening.
People are remarkable! I started taking a journal with me so I can document the insights gleaned from watching others. It is better than social media for certain. I am delighted to witness the sweet gestures of people who adore each other. I observe the best of friends experiencing the true joy of laughter. I also see the couples regardless of age who take each other for granted as they are out for the evening. Those are the ones that break my heart. Why be with someone you have grown tired of respecting and looking out for?
I have been on both sides of that “taking others for granted fence” and vow to burn it to the ground. In my line of work, I spend my time with the elderly, and it is clear that the desire for connection NEVER leaves us. It seems as though we are not designed to go through life alone. I have met some wonderful people here and connected, yet there is still yearning for connection that remains unsatisfied. My dedication to loving myself fully as I am right now has provided remarkable experiences. I am proud to courageously go out alone to events in spite of not having someone to accompany me. It was not all that long ago when that head trash was much louder than the courage and often kept me at home.
Wherever you go there you are. I have to say that the location really does matter. At the end of the day, I am so happy to be where I am physically on any kind of emotional day!