December 23, 2016, five years ago today, was one of those days when I said, like so many of you, "I hate dating!" It was the day Cathy broke up with me. I could tell it was coming for about a month. It had become increasingly obvious that her heart was not in our relationship anymore. We attended her ward Christmas dinner together, but she hardly smiled and more or less avoided me. (Can you tell that the smiles in the picture are forced?)
I thought Cathy's timing and choice of the setting for our breakup conversation was impeccably bad. I let her know my feelings boldly and rudely. (She thinks "quite rudely" might be a better characterization.) In retrospect, neither of us handled the situation particularly well. Does anyone?
I share this story partly because I want you to understand that we were human beings in this dating business. We aren't just a blissfully married couple looking down on you and feeding you a heavy dose of Latter-day Saint idealism about dating from a privileged position.
We experienced the anxiety and stress of not knowing the end from the beginning, not knowing what the other person would decide, and not knowing what future opportunities we may be giving up if we chose to be together with a particular person. Our path was more winding and complicated. We both had a lot of growing to do in that process.
For awhile, I even told myself, "Cathy is the one who broke it off, and she is the one who should come back to me if she wants to put it back together." I even said that to my therapist. Of course, life doesn't really work that way. It's not about fairness. If you want something--particularly if that something is love--you have to take a risk. You can't wait for the other person to take it or you may be waiting forever.
In your case, a brighter day might mean getting back together with a former favorite dating partner; or it might mean meeting someone new and wonderful. The anniversary of getting fired might be a pleasant one, because you realized it opened the door for a great new career that you wouldn't have considered otherwise. There are infinite additional examples we could choose.
On December 23, 2019, on the third anniversary of our transition, Cathy played a beautiful rendition of my favorite Christmas Carol in sacrament meeting--as my wife and my Queen. It was a joyful, symbolic moment. But Cathy had already erased the pain of that difficult December 23, three years before, by marrying me. For me, December 23 will always be a day that renews my hope. I am grateful for second chances. I am exceedingly grateful for the blessed life I have now with Cathy. My cup runneth over.
We talk about this relationship transition of ours in: Creating New Love in the Holidays
Cathy's violin musical number, O Come O Come Emmanuel can be heard here: Jeff's Favorite Christmas Song