By Carolyn Shields
You are enough. You are enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.
Yes, we can flee to scripture. We can run to the chapel, seek counsel from a priest, and offer our rosaries for his heart. We can do novenas to Our Lady Undoer of Knots, fast, make sacrifices. But that doesn't always stop the incessant drumming coming not from our heart, but from an ugly place between our ribs. Emotional chastity sucks. But as in all things, take it to prayer first. And then I suggest the following...
1. Learn about it.
Feeling stressed, anxious, nauseated because he's not responding to your texts, because he's not getting the hint, because he's just not into you (or you think? Or is he? Mixed signals.) is utterly miserable. Log onto focusequip to listen to multiple talks on emotional chastity, or check out the Everts' Project Chastity and break down what you're feeling into a science. The reason you are so worked up is because, as Edith Stein said, emotions occupy the center of a woman's being. But we can't become slaves to our emotions, and that's exactly what is so crippling about how you're feeling. But take comfort in knowing that this is normal and that the reason why you're feeling what you're feeling can be explained. Because there is a way we should feel, and a way we shouldn't, and there's help for that.
2. Text a friend, not him.
Whenever you have the urge to text him, direct it toward a friend. Let's not even pretend that I haven't sent a girlfriend a text that read, 'Hi. I'm texting you because if not you it would be him and I shouldn't so how was your day can you distract me?' And she does. Likewise, instead of facebook stalking his new girlfriend or him, reach out to a friend in a moment of weakness. It's at times like these that I normally text a plethora of girlfriends, not with 'Pray for me' or anything, but just to catch up. That way when my phone buzzes and I'm not expecting a text, my heart won't leap thinking it's him.
3. Don't dwell.
Easier said than done. Even if you're in a crappy mood because you're doing a really freaking good job damnit of not texting him, or anxiety is crawling up your spine, don't cancel your plans to sulk. Keep that dinner date with your friend. Go to that party. You will be incredibly grateful for the distraction and the reminder that there are so many other healthy relationships. Fill your calendar. And seeing a friend's face light up at a New Possibility in her own life is a beautiful thing. Combat anxiety with beauty.
4. Get your behind to a cafe
Why? Because it's a perfect blend of distraction and solitude. Because it gives you an excuse to get out of your house. Because lattes are warm and good for the soul. Because we are social beings, and we can't lay on our beds in the middle of the day clutching our rosaries to our chests. And because you might see a cute guy there.
5. Hang out with your guy friends
What? Not your girlfriends? Though this might have been the issue that got you here in the first place, hear me out. You started hanging out with him thinking you could stay good friends, but it's always inevitable that one will fall for the other. (Want to read more on this? Blogger Tess wrote a great post on this topic, and how we can have guy friends as long as we aren't too emotionally intimate, but we are women, we thrive on emotions, so....?) So go to those guy friends who are in solid relationships, where there's not a chance of a flame between you, but do so in a group. Don't seek one out. Get your friends together for brunch on Saturday, go get drinks and then see the latest flick this week. Why? Because it's always such a nice reminder that there's other good men out there. Good, solid, practicing religious men who can make you laugh and enjoy a beer with and compliment you.
6. Write a song about him
Or a poem. Or a letter. And save it. For when? I don't know. I'm trying to figure this one out too, but I have a notebook filled with songs I've written for men, and the only person who ever listened to them was my baby sister, and that's ok. Because while writing them, it becomes a therapy to really think of why you like him and how you feel. It will be a one sided conversation, but it is still half a conversation, better than none at all. Sometimes you just have to get some words out.
7. Here's a controversial one...
Pray for yourself, not him. To an extent. Obviously. FOCUS missionaries must undergo a dating fast for their first year of service, and there's one crucial reason why I find it necessary: because, personally, when I fall for a guy, 90% of my prayer is directed toward him: his heart, his family, his struggles...and though there's nothing wrong at all about praying for him, you are still emotionally investing your prayer life into him. Pray for your own heart. Pray for your future spouse. Pray for world peace. Pray big. But don't tunnel vision your prayer to him.
8. Remember: You Are Your Worst Critic
Don't beat yourself up. Don't be too hard on yourself. We are beautifully flawed so that when we make a mistake, we realize what we are capable of without Christ. (See 10) This isn't a do suggestion, but a don't. Don't worry about scenarios that may or may not happen, don't fear the What Ifs (what if he asks another girl out? What if he does take the job in another city?). Because 85% of what we worry about never happens. This article is worth the read!
9. Make To Do Lists
Lots of them. Books to Read, Movies to Watch, Things to Do, and create an Ultimate Bucket List...tying this into Number 3, fill your calendar and keep yourself busy. Welcome distractions. Meet challenges. And if you tell yourself it's only so that maybe one day you can tell him about them, then just keep doing them. If anything it will remind you of everything you can do without him.
10. I can't. You can. And you promised.
And repeat that. Over and over. Are you trying to write your love story again? Because we can't. Believe me, I thought I had the perfect love story. Not once, but twice. John 15:5 tells us apart from Christ, we can do nothing. It doesn't say we can't do most of it, we can't finish the race without him, but we can't do anything. Give Him the pen so He can finish this chapter for you and write of the beauty that will come from these episodes of pain.
And a very important P.S
I don't want to preach any of this. Why? Because I'm writing this post to sort through the emotional attacks I'm going through right now. I am by no means claiming I do these things either, but they are merely suggestions that have at some point helped me. So leave suggestions, critiques, and more below!
Written in 2014