Rituals are important, I don’t mean in the traditional or religious sense, or the traditionally religious sense. I mean it in terms of good practice or healthy habits. I am certainly not religious but I certainly have my rituals. I have my gym rituals, my Thursday night rituals and my rituals for writing, just to name a few. One of the more recent rituals I’ve added to my routine within the past year or so is going to restaurants alone. I love going out to eat but I was always afraid to do it alone because I thought it looked sad or desperate. However, the fact that I was afraid to do it bothered me more than my own assumptions about seeing a single person sitting alone in a restaurant.
Fear is something that ran my life up until my late teens. I was afraid of everything. All the time I was just terrified. Anxious, worried, nervous, all different forms of fear and I was wrapped in those chains until I decided not to be. I started depending on what God says rather than what I thought to see if the words of the Bible were true. Fear was my biggest battle at the time so I looked up a bunch of Bible verses on fear until I found one that was short enough to memorize. After that I consciously made the choice to think the scripture in place of my own trepidation. I chose to believe God’s truth and in choosing faith I found that fear had no choice but to lose its grip on my heart. On a particularly fearful day I had a ring engraved with an anti-fear verse that I still use today, Joshua 1:9 and it still works.
Do not be afraid or dismayed, the LORD your God is with you wherever you will go. – Joshua 1:9
Choosing faith over fear doesn’t mean you’ll no longer feel that emotion. Feelings are useful, they are there for a reason. Feelings make great servants and terrible masters. A good dose of fear is healthy. It reminds us to be careful, it helps us calculate risk, it protects us from harm. That gut instinct you always know you should follow, that’s fear confirming you’re right and if you don’t make a move you’re in trouble. It’s when fear grows in us like a weed that we keep watering with hesitation and anxiety that it becomes a problem. Fear is not meant to paralyze yet too often we let that happen don’t we? We skip opportunities, avoid confrontation and don’t push ourselves. Who will we become if we let doubt run the show? Take it from a writer, doubt gets you nowhere. Today I even doubted I had anything to write. I was hesitant, uninspired and tired. Maybe I was even mildly afraid I had nothing good to say but here I am, writing anyway. Not all fear is bad as long as you’re not all fear. By the grace of God and the things He wrote in those sixty-six books, I’ve conquered mine but it’s a conscious, continual victory. I still have fears, phobias even, which I will not list because I’m sure those I know will read this and then a barrage of what scares me most will greet me when I least expect it.
Feelings are useful, they are there for a reason. Feelings make great servants and terrible masters.
As I said, I used to be afraid of going out to eat alone. Ridiculous is what I think of it now that being alone in a restaurant is a goal I make for myself on the regular. I love flying solo when it comes to this activity. I also love meeting up with people for a meal but there’s a hot spark of happiness in me when the hostess asks how many and I get to say, “just me.” I’m alone these days, a sort of one man band if you will apart from my stellar parents and my baby brother who I now consider not just family but a really good friend. Given our history I’m both humbled and flattered he thinks well of me. It’s relatively new territory, this whole not managing a multi-threaded social life thing and I’m learning to like it because I’m doing it for the best of me. I’m figuring things out for my life and I cannot do it with the distraction of others and their issues because I’m someone who caters to people and wants to help them through. Being a voice of reason, advice giving, maternal type of friend is truly the kind of shit my heart beats for, but being a part-time counselor to clients and whoever else crosses my path means there’s less time for me to deal with me. Sometimes I put myself in place to help others with their problems so I can avoid mine but somewhere in the last few years I’ve managed to become an adult so I think it’s time I act like one and take care of myself. This is where the eating alone comes in. It’s my biweekly (sometimes weekly) meeting with myself to just sit and eat and think. I don’t have to do anything or be anything for anyone. All I need is a notebook or a book and my credit card so I can pay the bill. I put my phone on DND and simply enjoy the atmosphere without having to interact with any of it. Think about it, good food, table service, somewhere not silent but quiet enough to think. When people do come up to me it’s the waiter or waitress who bring me coffee and things I can eat so I have no objection there. It’s my little slice of paradise and it’s fucking perfect.
I take myself out. It’s my solo date which is fitting since I’m not seeing anyone right now if you’ve read Where Are All the Men? It’s clear that nearly all the men I know are too much like Larry, but more than that I want to learn how to deal with just me right now. That’s why I’m also not entertaining dozens of friendships. For once I’m not dependent on someone else’s company. I’m not trying to save anyone or be the hero. These days I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. I eat alone. I won’t say where I go because I don’t want to give my spots away and end up seeing familiar faces. I do love random sighting of humans I adore but this, me alone in restaurants with my dog, great food, good coffee and remarkable customer service is my secret serenity.
My phone goes on do not disturb and my notebook or novel is in front of me. I sit alone, I eat alone, I think alone. I simply practice being alone and being okay with being alone because I’ve never really been literally, entirely alone. I’m still not, I have my family and if God forbid I didn’t I’d still have my dog. Being alone and being aware of it is not easy. I sort of understand why people can’t seem to settle with just themselves because it’s well, unsettling to just be me, myself and I. Who do I talk to? Who do I joke with? Who do I love? Myself, my blood and my God because that’s all I’ve got. I believe it was Bukowski who said; “madness is caused by not being often enough alone.” I have a meeting with myself and during these solo ventures is where I conquer my fears of being a single woman in a public place with no electronic distractions who is forced to be apart of real life for an hour or two. I write, I focus on my goals, I tell myself I need to get my shit together and then I figure out how. It’s good to date yourself. I highly recommend it.
5 thoughts on “Date Yourself”
HI Genevieve. I love today’s missive and I have a couple comments.
First of all I admire your courage and overall will to comment and make your mark on this stained world. Bravo!
Lets start with rituals, yes I have one. I recently started this about 20 years ago. Before I start my day I read a chapter in the Bible. I have divided the Bible up into sections and when I am finished one, I move to the next. That’s probably my biggest and most dedicated ritual. Surprisingly it has yielded wonderful rewards of internal peace.
Example; I recently had my marriage explode ending in divorce. Through all the massive pain, I was able to bring up many passages that really meant something, and follow them. One found its way in tattoo form on my forearm.
Lets talk about Joshua 1:9
You know, I think you are mind melding me. Last weekend I had started another tattoo. Yes, you liked the pic of my artist working on my arm. Ok, this tattoo is of a Templar Knight swinging a sword. He is standing on a large rock and there’s an inscription on the rock…Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Yes so today I was fired from my truck driving job. I know, what a load of crap right? However my new friend shared something with me. She said “Maybe the Lord wants you to do something different.”
Hmmm so the loss of a cheating wife, the gaining of a very good Christian female friend who also loves the Lord and now the loss of a crappy stress filled sleep deprived job…whats next? Twins? lol
Keep up the good words. Shalom
Very nice, I appreciate your words and I thank you for appreciating mine! Hopefully I’m not being a bad influence, I do love tattoos but if someone isn’t into that I don’t apply pressure. However, if someone has an idea they want inked I become their biggest cheerleader. I really do get irrationally excited about tattoos, it might be a problem.
I get excited about tattoos and passionate about Christ. It’s funny that you bring up Joshua 1:9 because that verse is one of my personal favorites. I put it into action all the time, I used it today in fact. I’m sorry that you’ve gone through rough and tough things but I’m also not sorry because it seems like you’re pulling a Joseph and seeing God in all of the madness. Jeremiah 29:11-13. Keep the faith and thanx for reading!
Gen, I feel the pain from life crap that gets thrown around. But I also see that the Savior is working something in me. He is refining me, changing my heart and attitudes, all this has great effect on personal relationships, which He has recently led me into.
Pulling a Joseph, wow, thank you so much for that compliment. How awesome is it to take our favorite characters we have read about in the Bible and use them as guides for our own lives. I look at Issac and his love for Rebekah. I look at Jacob and his love for Rachel, and Ruth and her love for Boaz. Pillars all of them. Human and with mistakes, just like me and you.
Look at Rahab and Abigail. Compare them to Jezebel and Bathsheba.
Now, I see something in you. Ive seen this from the first moment I read you. I cannot put my finger on it, but I do want to hang around and see where the Lord leads you. Maybe I can in some way be a help to you in your personal journey.
Have a marvelous day!
Thank you! I don’t want to know where I would be without the all too real, all to flawed characters of the Bible to learn from. I’m more than happy to let you stick around for my successes and failures and if you’re insisting on being there, I would appreciate your prayers more than anything. Have a great one.
I insist on being here, and prayers will definitely come your way. Hugs