My 30-day man-cation has come to an end. And let me tell you, it did not go as expected.
I thought I’d have zero communication with men, I didn’t.
I thought I’d do a little self-care every day, I didn’t.
I thought the goal would just be breaking my text habits, it wasn’t.
It was So. Much. More.
Communication with men. Not communicating with men for 30 days was the whole point of this dating break. The day before I set out on this break, I texted or called the men I had recently been in contact with. I told them what I was preparing to do, why I was doing it, and what that meant for them. I got varying reactions: Contestant #1 said nothing at all; Contestant #4 insisted the break didn’t need to apply to him, then said he understood, then maintained a countdown for the entire 30 days; Contestant #5 questioned whether it needed to apply to him, then respected it and gave me the space; and Contestant #6 was clearly upset but wished me the best.
However, what I didn’t anticipate was how many men I had to communicate with for work. I couldn’t just avoid them altogether and risk not fulfilling my work duties or straining good work relationships. I attempted to keep it to a minimum - not allowing the topic to deviate too far from work, or the conversation to occur before or after work hours. But it was much trickier than expected.
Daily self-care. I had created a whole list of things to do each day to enhance self-care, self-awareness, and self-love during this time. This list included things like taking a 30-minute hike, watching the sunrise, cooking a new meal for myself, and staying off social media. The idea was to turn the time and energy I was expending on men into time and energy I was pouring into myself. While I did notice that I had more time and energy available without being glued to my phone, I did not consciously attempt any of these acts of self-care. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. It was more so because I was occupied unpacking all of the insight about myself that I received during this time.
Breaking Text Habits. I set out on this dating break to break my pattern or habit of constantly communicating with a man. I had found that I’d become dependent on this form of companionship. As a result, any change or lapse in this companionship would turn me into a needy or insecure version of myself that I really didn’t like. I thought the communication was the root cause of this codependency, so the man-cation seemed like the best fix. I was incredibly resolved and optimistic.
Only to have learned that the communication was an effect, not a cause. The second week into the dating break, I started to get these revelations about myself and my relationships. Like, you guys, mind-blowing realizations. I won’t go into depth yet because I’m still unpacking them. But I learned that I have a few insecurities, most notably fear or anxiety of being alone, of being abandoned, and of not being good enough. As a result, I: tolerate men, behavior, and situations I shouldn’t; have had some of these insecurities for a good portion of my life; have developed some of the others as a result of my divorce; haven’t allowed myself to resolve them because I keep getting involved in situations that only compound them; and that now, on this break, I’m feeling all these things I’d been running from since my separation.
So, no, I didn’t do cute little acts of self-care every day. But, yes, I discovered, sat with, and analyzed all the feelings that emerged from having time with myself. And that is arguably one of the hardest forms of self-care.
I don’t quite know where this man-cation coming to an end leaves me. I feel both empowered by the many realizations I experienced, and terrified at how exposed my feelings are as a result. I hope to, in the coming months, continue to keep my communication at a minimum and focus on healing myself. I’ll, of course, keep you updated!