I recently spent some time with my oldest son doing puzzles. They were 3-D puzzles, and it was often hard to tell what the piece in my hand was, let alone where it belonged. All I could do was try to make all the pieces fit together.
Last year, I made my 2013 Red Hot List. It was a list designed to help me put a different kind of puzzle together: my new life.
When I wrote the list, I didn’t have any regrets about the life changes I had made (I still don’t), but I remember feeling really isolated back then and like something was missing. My hope was that doing the activities on the list would help me get to know my new town and meet new people.
Between my good intentions and the fact that these were things I had already started doing, needed to do or wanted to do, I figured that my chances of completing everything on the list were pretty good. Red Hot Life … here I come, right?
Now here we are, more than a year later. I could go item by item now and tell you the progress I made. But the bottom line is this: I did some things, and I didn’t do others.
As I was working through my list, I took advantage of a few sessions of free counseling available through my employer. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I think counseling is fabulous.) I was telling my counselor about some of the issues that had led me to make my list and how I was hoping that doing the things on my list would make me feel less isolated. But after talking with her, what I realized was that the real problem wasn’t isolation but lack of connection. Oprah would call that an “Aha! moment.”
Connecting to others is important to us introverts. We crave meaningful conversations. When I spend quality time with the people I’m closest to, that “buzz” can last for days. I don’t feel that connection often enough, though. If I’m really honest with myself, I know that having a partner would help – not because I need someone to “fix” my situation, but because I want to share my life with someone: someone who gets me, whose company I enjoy, and who gives me the space I need but the connection I crave in a more permanent way. But I’m realistic, thanks to a few months of online dating that told me loud and clear that a single mom with young kids isn’t what a lot of guys are looking for. I’m still open to dating, but my heart knows I will need to be exceedingly patient.
So while I can fill my days with the activities on my list like going to wineries and local attractions, doing those things won’t always make me feel more connected. Sometimes they actually make me feel worse because I look around and feel like the only person there without a partner. I can enjoy doing those things with the special people in my life, but I am often left wanting more.
Don’t get me wrong: the puzzle that is my new life is full of great pieces — my children, my family, my friends and more — and I’m truly grateful for that. But there’s still a missing piece.