Miraculously it appears Gap Year has drawn to a spectacular close.
Not in that kind of way (the kind of way where it ended with me in a sweaty tryst with at least one man), but in the way that it’s done and I won.
To start with, one of the wisest women I know told me I should take a break from relationships to regroup. She suggested a year. In the midst of every-second-crawling-heartbreak a year seemed a REALLY long time, but I was pretty sure (on reflection) that I owed myself some time to regroup. So it seemed worth committing to. I did call it a sabbatical at first, but that sounded boring (like a 40 year old staying home on a Saturday night wearing watermelon pyjamas, drinking detox tea and writing), whereas GAP YEAR sounded…well like someone who’s 18 and travelling the world.
After I said I was committing to this thing I had a bet with an amazing (at times annoying) friend who (had very little faith in me) did not believe that I could not stay away from another relationship for a year and bet me $100 that I couldn’t last (he may have been the kind of friend who early in my relationship with the last guy tried gently to steer me in another direction and I thought he was being an asshole, so he does have some credibility. He’s also on the interview panel for the any new love interests. Of course). I won the $100.
In hindsight I can not believe I only bet a $100, because I’m super competitive and knew I would win and so should have made it more. He was pretty determined to win also, and may have offered someone $50 to distract me, but alas for him – he had to pay up. And 8 days early none the less because he knew he was beaten. I may have danced through his 20th wedding anniversary party waving it around. I may have photographed it in my teeth.
But honestly, I didn’t do it for $100. I didn’t do it for the glory of winning. I didn’t do to prove a point or to show anyone anything. I did it for me. And I did I for them. My four daughters. Because if there’s one thing I can teach them it’s to honour who they are in this life, and because I promise them that I will never again forget what is precious and to keep them safe. When you are lost you can not guide your children and in the end, what they have needed from me all along is a safe place to be home, filled with people who love them and want the best for them and who want them to be the fullness of who they are. And that’s pretty much what I need too.
Gap year wasn’t really about the man ban, or the no sex thing (and no it doesn’t break if you don’t use it!) or having an excuse not to join the mile high club with the animal psychic from Mullimbimby, it was about taking a relationship with another person out of the equation so that I had time and energy to focus on me. And them. And us. And home. And people who love you anyway and especially. And my gift to the world.
And in 357 days I learnt that gap year was the best way ever to plug the holes.
See people with holes attract people with holes. I only ever met the men in the serious relationships in my life until now when I was lost and holey. And somehow in that I hoped they would help me find me. And then I’d feel whole. But then we both got lost, filled our holes with things that only work momentarily, and then drain away. And then you’re standing before someone who says, “You don’t need a gap year to find yourself, you know what you want by now surely?” in a condescending tone and you realise that before that moment all you actually thought you wanted was him, when without him was the only possible way to figure that out. All 357 days of it.
And the irony becomes that the year of the gap filled the holes. And that was worth way more than 100 bucks.