There’s something you may or may not know about me. I’ve been single for a long time. A really long time. And I have a confession. I love it.
A decade ago when I had just entered adulthood I had my very first relationship that was – to put it mildly – a train wreck from the very beginning. I didn’t know how to function with another person, I just knew I wanted to be loved. Desperately and completely. First love, ohmygoodness is it painful. When that relationship ended my need to be loved intensified. I wanted even more badly to be loved, for someone to erase the un-loved-ness I felt from the first time around. That ended just as badly.
I realized that I did not have my shit together.
And I realized that I desperately wanted to change that. I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to focus on my mental and emotional health. I wanted to learn who I was without jumping from relationship to relationship in an attempt to discover what other people loved about me so that I could then love those things about myself. I went on my very own Eat Pray Love journey from the comfort of my living room and the inside of books, many books.
Something pretty amazing happened: I learned to love myself.
It took a few years but I learned to love myself in ways that I didn’t know were possible. I learned to love things about myself that I didn’t know were lovable, that no one had looked at me and pointed out. No one said “I love that about you.” Quirky, silly, little, big, amazing things. I discovered them all by myself and it was life-changing in an intense way. It was self discovery at its finest.
I also created a lot of hobbies. When there’s no one around you have two choices – die of boredom or find some way to occupy your time. I chose option B. I did everything that interested me – jogging, crocheting, painting, blogging, webdesign, reading, jigsaw puzzles, gardening, yoga, drawing, jewelry making, video games, coffee dates with a book in hand – and I began coming up with this wonderful daily routine that always included something that I enjoyed doing.
Two years ago, I decided it might be time to try dating. I put effort into it. I put myself out there, I was determined to make it work. I thought that I had built up really good communication skills, that I had a strong sense of self, and that I would be able to go into a relationship and not lose myself but also have the tools to function. I felt like it was a test that I had studied hard for. I had something to prove to myself and to the world. I was dateable. My shit was finally in order. I could do this.
As it turns out, I was not as ready as I thought I was.
The person I dated was truly a lovely person, I got lucky, but I started feeling trapped, and grouchy, and time went by and I felt less and less like myself. I didn’t know how to step into the role of being a somebody to anybody but myself. To be honest I was a bit selfish. There were times where I didn’t want to share my ‘me’ time. Alright, there were a lot of times. I felt like the whole thing exhausted me on this deep level – so much energy that had been purely devoted to me and my happiness was now being diverted and I felt the loss of it. So I ended the relationship. Relationships? Nah, just not for me.
I got really good at the “Let’s just be friends.” speech after that. I was pretty firm in my stance that I just wasn’t ready and I might never be – but because I was happy and healthy – that was okay. In the meantime I continued on as I had been, doing the things I love, buying a house all on my own, living a life that I was truly happy to be in.
Five months ago, something unexpected happened. I fell in love.
I resisted it for a long time, (a long time being a month). I gave all of the appropriate disclaimers. “I really like being single. I really enjoy my alone time. I really have a hard time with changing my routine. I easily start feeling trapped. I’m a bit of a commitment phobe. I really really like my own company. I don’t know if I can do this. Be patient with me.” I thought I was going into it more prepared than I was before, with a little bit more wisdom under my belt. I knew the pitfalls. I knew where I was going to struggle. Ha! I got this. Shit is finally together! I wasn’t looking for love, I was quite vehemently opposed to it, but just like everyone always says – it happens when you least expect it.
It didn’t work out.
There were a lot of reasons, that’s a story for another day. It was an eye opening experience. I learned more about myself, it’s always the tough situations that do that. Not all of it was good stuff, and I’m making peace with that. I have realized that I am happy for the experience and better for it. It’s so easy to close off your heart and to become bitter. To stay single not for the enjoyment of it – but out of fear. Fear of not being loved or lovable, fear that you will hurt another person, fear that they will hurt you, fear that you will become stuck in a situation that you feel you can’t get out of. If this whole situation taught me anything it is this:
The resilience of my heart and my capacity for forgiveness.
The last few months were painful, breaking up always is. Messy and full of hurt and sometimes venom. There were many times where I struggled, where my heart felt like it was so broken that it would never feel the same. That I would never be the same. That I would never trust or love or feel whole again. That it would change me in this definitive way that I couldn’t undo. It did, change me that is, but not in a way that left me broken. If anything it deepened a lot of aspects of myself. It has helped me see myself in a different way – from a different angle. As incredibly clichéd as it sounds (please forgive me) it made me stronger.
Heartbreak really sucks.
But you’ll come out on the other side and you’ll be okay. There were so many times that was just what I needed to hear. “It hurts, but you’ll get through it. You’ll be okay.” If you need that reminder, please let me tell you – your heart will not feel broken forever. You will get through this. Take some time for you. Rediscover the beauty of being alone. Give yourself what you need. Think of your happiness and your needs and all of the things that will make your heart feel just a teeny tiny bit better and do them and you’ll get through it.
You’ll be okay. We all will.
“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away. You will put the wind in win some, lose some. You will put the star in starting over, and over. And no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive. But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.” If I should have a daughter by Sarah Kay