a single mother
Being OK With Being Single: Sometimes You’re Your Own Perfect Partner
Confession time: I never ever thought I would get married. I’m not what you call the “marrying type”. I’m kind of an asshole (surprise!), fairly selfish, and generally a handful. Sure, I dated a bunch when I was younger, but I wasn’t necessarily working toward an endgame. Mostly, I dated guys for free meals and drinks and regular sex. Then, I met the man who I would marry, and I don’t know. It felt different? He was the first guy I didn’t want to push out the front door in the morning. So we got married, we had a couple of kids, we built a little life. And it fell apart, as marriage sometimes does. I’ve been single since then, and as hard as it is for A LOT of people to understand, I fucking love it. I am more than OK with being single!
Believe it or not, I’m happier being single than I was for much of my marriage.
My husband and I had a lot of happy times during our marriage. We got two amazing kids out of it, for starters. At various points, everything worked really well, and we were both happy. But, there was also a lot of conflict and a lot of bad shit that went down. And at some point during our marriage, I said goodbye to myself and just sort of … shut off. I stifled so much of my natural self in order to fit into what I assumed was the more compatible version of me. I told myself that the stuff I liked and enjoyed wasn’t what “we” liked and enjoyed, so I gave it up. Eventually, I started closing myself off from friends and family, because I was convinced that my husband and kids were all the friends and family I needed.
Clearly, it was toxic in many, many ways. But when you’re in it, you can’t really see it for what it is. It’s like living in a city with shitty air quality and not realizing it until you’re in a plane flying over the city and can see the pollution cloud covering it. Once my marriage ended, the fog started to lift. And slowly but surely, I started to clear my own air.
Initially, I jumped right back into the dating pool. Partly out of spite, and partly because I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
I signed up for all the apps and dating sites. And after literal years of not feeling loved or appreciated or desired, I will be honest: it was amazing for my ego. Suddenly all these men were interested in ME. But, in hindsight, I might have shot my load too soon. Because I was a fucking MESS after my marriage ended. Like, it was real dark days, you guys. I still, to this day, have no idea how I survived that first year. Being single was a huge adjustment, but it was so much more than that. There was so much shit I had to process, a whole lot of trauma and pain and anger that needed to be addressed. I was in no condition to care for myself, honestly, let alone try to get to know a brand new person.
So I shelved the dating shit. I let my subscriptions to the sites lapse, and I deleted the apps. I said goodbye to small talk and that weird “these are my flaws what are yours” dance you do when you meet someone new. At some point, I realized that I was forcing it because I had convinced myself that being single was undesirable, and I needed someone in my life to make me whole again.
And then, I started to drag myself out of the abyss.
I’m not going to lie: it was ugly. I struggled more days than I didn’t. Not only had I lost my partner, but I’d lost my co-parent for 99% of the time. I also lost more than half of my household income, HA. So my priorities that first year or so were centered on getting my shit together as the sole provider for my girls. I took any and all work I could find, and I worked all day, every day. I held it together while my girls were awake everyday, and shattered into a million pieces every night. On the surface, I definitely looked like I was handling it. But my close friends and family know the truth.
The darkness was deep, and one day, I saw a sliver of light. It was at the end of the month, and not only had I paid all my bills, but you guys: I HAD MONEY LEFT OVER. Do you have any idea how amazing that feels?! My kids were happy, we were getting out more and filling our lives with good people. At some point, I realized that I was no longer … lonely. Sure, it might have had something to do with the fact that I barely had enough time to brush my teeth, let alone reflect on my singleness. But I wasn’t sitting around moping about being alone anymore. I didn’t miss having someone there.
I started to appreciate just having me there.
I fell back in love with myself over time, and I realized that being single was actually pretty fucking fantastic. You know what I don’t have to do? Share my bed. Or argue over what TV shows to watch. I get to buy the food I like, and I get to spend two hours sitting in front of a magnified mirror plucking hairs off my face. When my girls and I get invited to something, I don’t have to check with someone else to see what they have going on. We just fucking do it! I don’t have to apologize for anything, or try to make anyone else happy. My only priority is making my girls and myself happy.
It’s been incredibly freeing, this letting go of the idea that I need someone else. When I stopped believing I needed someone, I was able to focus on recognizing when I want someone. Not to complete me, but to complement me and my life. Right now, our life is pretty damn good. And I’m not saying that I’m shutting the door for good on finding someone to enjoy it with! At some point, I’m sure I will be 100% ready to open that can of worms. But I definitely needed this time to get myself right, and I needed this time to be OK with being single.
I know now that I’m all I need. Am I all that I will ever want? That remains to be seen. But I am pretty fucking amazing, and there are plenty of ways to fulfill … other needs that may arise. Being single has been a godsend, and has given me the gift of falling back in love with ME. I have to say, mine are going to be some pretty big shoes to fill, should the right person come along.
(Image: iStock / g-stockstudio)