I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been a single mom now for roughly 2 and 1/2 years. It’s not something that I ever expected. I’ve never spent much of my adult life out of any relationship, good or bad. I have always craved the “best friend” effect that a relationship provides.
I know that my situation is challenging, so I certainly won’t minimize it, but I also know that I’m not as bad off as some other single parents. And I don’t mean parents who have the financial, physical or time support of another biological parent. It’s not easy to have to do things alone, but there is a drastic difference between somebody who has The support even in some small extent of the other parent of your child.
Over the last 5 months or so, I haven’t trusted myself. I pushed myself to be optimistic with relationships. I pushed myself to continue to date when my gut told me that I just needed to relax for a while. The frustrating part is that it’s an incredibly lonely life when you don’t have a partner. Everyone is busy. A vast majority of my friends have kids or at a minimum a partner they live with. Actually, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t at least have one or the other! It. Is. Lonely.
I don’t even remember what it’s like to share responsibilities with a partner, husband, boyfriend, whatever. To be perfectly honest, it has been a whole 2 and 1/2 years since I have experienced the closeness of a live-in relationship. It is a very different world to have full access to someone. I literally do not remember what it is like. I barely can wrap my head around the idea of having someone to share everything with every single day anymore. It’s almost depressing and itself to think that. Which is quite possibly why I remain so optimistic that the right person is out there for me. My son doesn’t conversationally speak yet. And honestly, I can’t discuss the Microbiology slides that I made today, or how worried I am about the Chemistry test I have to take Monday, with him anyway. No child needs that stress on them.
I feel like I shoulder the responsibility well. Some days, yes, it is overwhelming. Some days I have to “cry and then boss up” because stuff has to get done. Some days I fantasize about putting my son in the car and starting over somewhere. But I’m not even running from anything at this point. I am secure, we are safe, we are happy. Now, I’m seeking more introspection. There is nothing to run from except my own mind. My own unhappiness with my progress (again). My own loneliness.
But now I need a break. I’ve got to take care of myelf and my heart, because at the end of the day, I know that I don’t want to end up in another horrendous situation because I rushed to make decisions or because I wanted something so badly that I chose to “make it work.”
Now, some of you are probably sitting there rolling your eyes, thinking “wow this bitch has no clue, that is all relationships are, is ‘making it work.'” I assure you, I know full well the gravity and the weight of a relationship. I was married for three and a half years and my longest relationship was over six years. No matter how unhealthy it was; I have experienced *some* life. However, I feel as though I still haven’t experienced the extent of love that I expect from a forever-relationship.
I was talking with a friend yesterday, and I said I had noticed something interesting about my personality when I’m within and without a relationship. I noticed that sometimes the difference, to be cliche, is that “my sparkle is dulled.” For lack of a better term, I am a sparkly person; I mean, after all I am a Gemini, so it’s to be expected that I am a little flighty, silly, I love to laugh, and as much as I appreciate a plan, I do love spontaneity. But all too often I’ve noticed that depending on the person I am with, it gets toned down to a dull roar. I’m not okay with that! I said to my friend, I have to find the person who appreciates it and nurtures it, not a person who wants to suppress it all the time, or worse, doesn’t inspire it. I can’t have someone who doesn’t appreciate how ridiculous I can be. How much I love being silly and lighthearted. How much I’m a lovey mush. And that probably sounds obvious, don’t be with someone who doesn’t “get you,” but I will hazard a bet that there are a lot of people walking around feeling just a little bit dead inside because they are making such huge compromises.
Being in a relationship might not always be easy, but it’s easier than leaving a bad one, no matter how bad it is. Even people who are being physically abused and sent to the hospital, have a hard time leaving that relationship. Leaving a relationship that doesn’t set your soul on fire still isn’t easy. Leaving someone who doesn’t understand you still isn’t easy. Human emotions are cruel and unfair for the mostly, from what I have experienced. It’s a wonderful thing that we can experience such a wide range of emotions. But they get in the way of our better judgment. Our better judgment telling us that we deserve more, or that someone won’t change or even grow, for crying out loud, or that someone doesn’t care for us enough to listen to us better, or communicate better, or pick up their goddamn socks off the floor.
I’m not advocating everyone get up and walk out of a relationship because the going gets tough, not by a long shot. But I know enough people that I care about who are stuck in situations where their partner has gotten lazy, or they truly had a crisis of conscience where they can no longer be who they used to be, or be who they represented themselves as at first (I submit that that is even more painful), and they simply cannot cut the cord. They cannot make the mature decision to say I am going to work harder for us, or I am going to leave your soul at peace and move forward without you.
That is probably the most powerful thing that someone could ever say to their partner who they are unhappy with. “I want to leave your soul at peace.” It has nothing to do with what the other person is or isn’t doing; it is simply acknowledging your own role in the scenario. Something about my spirit irritates your spirit and they are no longer compatible.
Maybe this is just part of dating effectively in your 30s. Maybe this is just part of my journey as a widow and a mother, and my experience. On the other hand maybe this is valid for you as well. Maybe you are sitting there wondering why all the wrong people are coming to you. Or why you are stuck somewhere that you absolutely can no longer stand. Or maybe you go on date after date for them to all be dead wrong for you. Maybe you haven’t been on a date in so long that you can’t remember what going on a date is like (I’m with you! Are actual dates a lost art!?)
Here’s the thing, guys. I remain optimistic. Maybe that makes me a fool, but I know that my soulmate is out there stumbling around without me, so I will keep pushing forward until he appears. Even during this time of healing for myself where I am technically not dating, I will still certainly go out on dates if I am asked. But right now I’m “just meeting people.” I need to enjoy the serenity and clarity of my early 20’s that I never had, try to enjoy life on my terms a little bit more, and keep my heart and my head clear so that the right person is coming closer to finding me every single day.
So I encourage you, my fellow single parents: know what you are seeking. Tell the universe how grateful you are that your soulmate has appeared to you. Thank the universe for delivering someone who not only fulfills your needs, but you also fulfill theirs. You are not a half looking for your other half you are a whole looking for another whole. Completion is not the goal. You are a whole human being And if you aren’t, then it is time to start working on that. And if that requires you to be completely alone, do so. Don’t drag anyone else into the mess. Part of the reason that I have objectively chosen to remain outside of any solidified relationship for the time being is because I don’t need to drag anyone else down. I certainly believe that two people can work very hard together and both heal while together. Please don’t get me wrong there. But I think that too many broken people are getting together, staying together or just ignoring their problems all together, and not doing the work to be the best people that they can be. I pray that you find someone who doesn’t irritate your demons and who wants to work equally as hard as you to be the absolute best person that they can be; for themselves first, and then for their children if they have them, and then for you, and your children if you have them.
If you have gathered anything from this today I hope it is this: broken people don’t have to be broken forever. But they need to acknowledge that they are broken and fill their cracks in a healthy way, and if they are trying to repair themselves while in a relationship with someone else it needs to be a symbiotic relationship. Everyone needs to work together or it will never work. An ultimately, if that person is not working with you, they don’t care enough about you to make it happen. Don’t ever sell yourself short. Don’t run from everything that is in front of you, but don’t tell yourself that you deserve to stay in a crappy situation because of time and history. It is better to be sad and unhappy alone, than to sleep next to another human being and feel equally as sad alone.
Much love ~ Jess