My sister sent this to me last week with undeniably sweet intention. She knows the language my heart speaks – the undercurrent of emotion running deep beneath my surface. She sees in me what I see in her: the spirit of a seeker, a soul on a homeward path, a woman of depth and feeling. She is wise beyond her years and so often recognizes, without provocation, words I need to read even before I need to read them.
When I received her message, I thought, “aww, that’s sweet…but doesn’t she know I’m always kidding?” My single-ness has become one of my favorite sources of humor. I am one of four daughters, my parents are still married, we’re all wonderfully close, and I am the only romantically unattached member of the bunch…which allows for no shortage of jokes. I don’t think any of us can help it – my life is so often a walking advertisement for #singleAF (and I bet my cat would agree). From awkward encounters with men, to holiday gatherings, to solo-hikes, to vacations, to movies and music…my two-year single stretch has been a comical adventure. We all get a kick out of poking fun at my situation, no one more so than me.
The cute little excerpt my sister sent last week was exactly that – a cute little excerpt that made me roll my eyes and think, ‘well duhh…everyone knows a romantic relationship doesn’t equate happiness.’ I also took a moment to thank the universe for the non-romantic relationships I’ve been able to nurture during this time. Growing that kind of love is so worth the labor.
It’s funny, though, how it sneaks up on you – the gravity of being single and the void that sometimes exists. A wave of sadness crashed against my shore this week and it’s been rough. Sure enough, I found myself rereading the words my sister sensed I’d need.
I thought about striking the following from the record, because so much of me doesn’t want this to be about my ex, and I know, at least theoretically, it’s not. But omitting him would be disguising my truth…like pouring paint on a pile of crap and calling it a bouquet of flowers. The truth is, the fact that my ex is in a long-term, serious relationship is painful. Terribly painful – even though more than two years have passed. Today, the pain was enough to knock the wind out of me; enough to send a few tears rolling down my cheeks.
“You were so easily replaced. He’s completely fine without you…happier, even. He pities you. You seem so pathetic.” I found myself spiraling.
Maybe I was easily replaced. He probably is completely fine and happier now. He very well might pity me. None of these thoughts, true or untrue, should affect my sense of self. But sometimes, they do. Sometimes I compare my lack of romantic relationships to his long-term one and I become depressed. I believe my cruel thoughts. And I feel like I might die inside if I don’t receive some sort of validation…if someone doesn’t love me, romantically, and soon.
I’ve often wondered if there exists a series of words that, if he strung them together perfectly, would make me feel better about being “alone.” The answer of course is no. But sometimes I like to imagine those words live and breathe inside him – that sometimes he feels like I feel, that nothing will ever replace me…he still thinks about me…he still hurts, too.
This line of thinking always ends with the same inescapable truth: I cannot change the past; we are not supposed to be together; I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
I understand the underlying message of the words my sister read and passed on to me: romantic love isn’t the only important love; there is no other half; keep being happy & workin’ on you, girl. And on days I’m feeling particularly spiritual and enlightened and fulfilled, I’m comforted by that sentiment.
But the truth is, there are times I feel so damn unlovable, lonely…desperately wanting a romantic partner. Despite knowing better, part of me still expects to arrive one day in spectacular fashion, with the word READY stamped across my forehead. As if this work is ever finished. As if any of us are ever ready for anything. I keep waiting to no longer care about my ex’s relationship or what people think or how I am perceived. But what if those things never truly go away? What if part of the evolution is to simply accept the caring and the insecurities, and to open myself up anyway?
All of me believes in the necessity of my single-girl status. But five percent of the time, single feels like a sheer and shitty test of endurance.