Date Night

What should I wear tonight? I want to look cute, but I also want to learn to accept my beauty no matter how I look on the outside. I don’t need tight pants and a low-cut shirt to be beautiful. I go for a casual but cute look: jeans, a black and grey sweater, and leather studded Converse kicks. I stand about five feet, nine inches, so heels have never been a required accessory in my mind. In heels, I’m unable to blend in. I may not be the tallest person in the room, but I’m most likely the tallest and thinnest. Before I made the choice to quit, I used to smoke Capri 120 cigarettes. When someone inquired why, I’d say, “I like to smoke something that matches my physique, tall and thin.”

I grab my wallet, my cell phone, my Kindle, and my car keys and head out the front door to start my Jeep. I’m going to the feels-like-home Italian restaurant a couple of towns over. I’m going on a date. My first date since my separation. It’s a scary but important step. I’m opening the next chapter.

This chapter should be titled, Don’t Forget to Love Yourself. Throughout my life, I’ve often felt unlovable, unwanted, unworthy, and overall defective. I cared more about seeking support and love from others than I ever cared about giving myself the support and love I desperately needed. But over the past ten months, I’ve begun to love and appreciate who I am. And I never want to lose that feeling again.

I realize my worth. I realize my strength. And I realize my beauty.

I request a glass of Chianti along with a menu and place my belongings to my right. I look around the bar and notice how packed it is. There must be 100 people here and its only six o’clock.

I basically skip to the back door of the restaurant. Before I enter, I stop to look up at the dark green awning. It reminds me of one of the many restaurants I’ve visited in Little Italy. I head down a flight of stairs covered in red and gold carpet with dark beige wallpaper, and I can smell the Romano cheese and red wine awaiting me. I notice three seats open at the end of the bar, so I take the farthest one – closest to the wall. I request a glass of Chianti along with a menu and place my belongings to my right. I look around the bar and notice how packed it is. There must be 100 people here and its only six o’clock. The energy is positive, and the volume is loud. When the bartender returns with my libation, I thank him, tell him I’d like the stuffed veal meatballs over a béchamel macaroni and cheese, and pick up my Kindle. Before I can finish one page, two couples walk up and ask if the seats next to me are taken. I tell them they are free and invite them to sit.

The woman who sits next to me is so warm and gregarious. She asks what I’m reading, and we begin a conversation. The three other folks in her party join in and I feel as if I’ve known them my entire life. We laugh, we clink our glasses together shouting “salute”, they buy me another glass of Chianti, and just as my entrée arrives, a waiter comes to inform them their table is ready. We bid each other adieu and though I’ll likely never see them again, I know I’ll cherish the time we shared together.

I am loveable, worthy, and engaging. They proved that to me. I am not defective. I am capable.

I pay my tab and head back up that familiar set of stairs to the outside world. This was the best date I’ve been on in my entire life. A date with myself. I learned about who I am and who I want to be. I’ve learned I am valuable. I cherish the time I’m able to spend with the incredible human I’ve become. And I can’t wait to take myself out again. I appreciate the struggles I’ve encountered because they’ve made me who I am today. And I freaking love this woman. She’s strong. She’s powerful. She’s capable. She’s everything I ever wanted to be.

I’m so glad she’s me.


JoAnna Bennett
JoAnna Bennett
Mother, Marketer, Writer, and Reader. I’m a mother of two wonderful little humans. I’m also an avid reader, an insatiable learner, and a self-acknowledged survivor. I’m grateful to work at O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) because I’ve learned the self-soothing and restorative craft of writing. I used to resist calling myself a writer because I have a finance degree. I naively thought I needed an English degree to effectively express myself in writing. But now, writer is a title I proudly wear, and writing is something I’ll practice for the rest of my life.

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  1. Congratulations, for the article and for the awareness gained. Many people will come and go in your life, but what you see reflected in the mirror every day will always be there. Taking care of her by supporting and appreciating her in every aspect of her essence is the key to a fulfilling life.

  2. JoAnna- First, wow. Second, I must confess it took me days to convince myself to read this because of the title. I went through a very tough breakup last fall after a long relationship, an engagement that was “a twice postponed wedding” and when I saw the lead, I thought, “nope, too painful.” But I felt drawn to read it. And now I’m back to Wow. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey- I think we are on similar paths, though I think I’m a bit behind. I haven’t been able to go out on my first date with my newfound self. :)) Not just because of the virus, just because I’m still just sad. After so long there isn’t a restaurant we didn’t go to so they all seem filled with memories. I like your idea of driving a bit. May have to try that post Covid-19. 😉

    So, thank you for opening your heart and sharing. Thank you for the affirmation I am on the right path. Sending you a virtual hug!

    • Thank you Catherine for sharing your story with me. Separations are hard. Especially if the relationship was toxic.

      At my age, I still feel behind. I think its a natural feeling, especially when we’ve noticed our time was wasted. But like a friend of mine always reminds me – look forward, not back. You can’t know what you didn’t know.

      I’d love to know if you take yourself out post-Covid, keep me in the loop!! And you are most certainly on the right path. Virtual hugs back at YA!!

  3. Such a great message: we must be able to love ourselves first. Your writing is so special. I was expecting a different ending. I kept wondering “Who is this guy and will he be worthy of the person I’ve come to know through her writing?” But your ending was a better ending, and the reveal was perfectly timed. I’m lifting a virtual glass of Chianti to you.

    • Oh Jeff! Thank you. I adore the fact that you feel protective over me, that kind of support is so very welcomed. Cheers!

  4. Bravo, JoAnna! Loving my own company has been one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime. I love going out to eat by myself, traveling by myself, going to movies by myself. You are so right, it begins with loving yourself. You deserve such a hot date!

    • Thank you Kim. The journey has had its ups and downs, that’s for sure. But I wouldn’t change one part of it, I’ve also learned how to be a better parent. If I can make sure my kids like themselves, they will be so far ahead of my life’s learning curve!!

    • Thank you Helen. I appreciate the comment. I’ve been on a journey this past year. I used to want to fast forward the time so I could get out of the trenches, but I wouldn’t appreciate these moments as much without having lived through the bad ones.

  5. Fantastic, JoAnna! I celebrate this shift you made inside of your own soul. I call it coming home to my own soul. Unworthiness tends to be a challenge for women, in particular. I believe some men may struggle with this, too-a human overcoming. We get conditioned to believe that we don’t matter. What an absolute lie!! Thank you for sharing your breakthrough in being valuable to yourself! Beautiful.

    • Thank you Laura! I love the notion of coming home to my soul. Life is so much more fulfilling when I’m appreciating and loving myself. And I’m having so much fun learning to accept all that I am. I wish I did this ages ago!!!

  6. JoAnna,
    I am glad you recognize, respect and like the person you are.
    As we age our looks change which makes them of little importance.
    Taking yourself out to dinner was a great idea that reaped great benefits for you.
    Take care, stay safe, and stay well.

    • Thank you Joel! I agree. And I can’t wait to do it again when I’m able. I hope you are also staying safe and well. I know NYC is a difficult place to reside in these days. I’m thinking of you and your family.