Gratitude for the Single Life

Since high school I’ve gone from one relationship to the next, never really going after the man I wanted, accepting (for a while anyway) the man that came along, but usually wanting a different man, one that was unavailable. I also wanted to be single, to get out of the trap of the relationship I allowed myself to get into, but it often took months or even years to be able to do so with each relationship. There were only two men that I loved, my college boyfriend and my second husband, but of course those relationships didn’t last.

After a brief stint of single life I found myself wanting to be in a relationship, just for the sake of being with someone, just to have a movies, dinner, and sex partner. So I got that with my old man, or I should say my former old man, because we’ve parted ways. And now that that has ended I’m finding myself uninterested in reactivating my online dating account, because love can’t be manufactured or created from a science project of personality questionnaires and photoshopped pics. Instead I plan to throw myself into participating in all the events and hobbies I wanted to do when I was in a relationship but I didn’t have time because I felt like I needed to be there for the man in my life. My circle of friends always went on all kinds of outings—camping trips, beach trips, barbecues, dances—and I always wanted to go, but never felt comfortable taking my husband, nor did I feel comfortable taking my old man, given the age difference. I think that says something about self-honesty, being embarrassed to take my partner on outings. If I feel uncomfortable taking my significant other to events with people who’ve known me for several years, many of them in ways no one else does, it means I’m probably not being honest with myself in dating this man. These are people who I’ve revealed some of my darkest secrets and fears, and to show up with someone who looks like he could be my father screams of daddy issues, which I don’t feel like broadcasting, although I realize the discomfort is within me, and what others think isn’t my business. Because my daddy issues aren’t something I’ve discussed with most of my friends. And the thing about bringing my old man around my friends is like George Costanza’s theory of the two worlds colliding. I just can’t have that.

Regardless, now I get to do all those things I wanted to do, and I don’t have to make excuses for why he’s not invited. When I can afford it, I can take a jewelry class or a painting class or rock climbing lessons. I can join a book club or take my dog for walks at the park. On Saturday nights I can go out with my girlfriends. When I get home from work I don’t have to deal with his mess or dirty dishes in the sink after he had the day off—because when a man takes the day off, he takes the day off, whereas when a woman takes the day off, she runs errands, cleans the house, goes grocery shopping, does laundry, etc. And I can decorate however I want to decorate, and I don’t need to concern myself with how to secretly donate his hockey stick from high school that he insists he’ll still use one day, or the Led Zeppelin posters he wants to thumbtack on the living room wall. The TV won’t be blaring, because I don’t own one, but I can watch “American Horror Story” from my laptop in the comfort of my bed, where my dog lays next to me spread eagle without worry of someone pushing her out of her space. On the weekends the football game won’t blast my serenity away nor do I have to waste my day off to go to a football game where rabid fans cheer men in tights as they throw a football across a field for four hours. I don’t have to remind my husband to take out the trash or mow the lawn, the only two chores I ask of him. I don’t have to feel obligated to take time off work to take a six-hour road trip with my in-laws to his great aunt’s 90th birthday. On my days off, I can do what I enjoy doing, without planning my life around his. Not that planning my life around his was his expectation, but it was something I did for a long time, and when I stopped, I realized that we were like two roommates living together, which I didn’t want.

Now that I’m single, I can enjoy being single. This is the thing I’ve been wanting! I wanted to be the kind of woman who could go places alone and be confident in doing so. I wanted my time to be my own. Even now, I can do the one thing I love most: write, without interruption. I cherish my time alone, and I rarely got that when I was married.

Another thing about being in a relationship that I hated was how small my world became—and it was all my own doing, because it doesn’t have to be that way. My husband and I spent most of our free time together, and when it was time to socialize, I had my friends and he had his pot-smoking or college friends, and the last thing I want to do these days is hang around drinkers and smokers. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, and sometimes it’s even fun, but most of the time I just find it annoying. If they’re drinking socially, which most of them usually do, it’s fine, but when people start getting wasted, my feelings about it range from amused and grateful to eye-opening and downright annoyed. That girl who thinks she looks so sexy dancing drunk—that was me. How embarrassing. I thought everyone was just as drunk as I was! Not the case. Most of the people when I go out are NOT that drunk—even at concerts! Amazing, huh? Anyway, I digress. When my ex and I went out with his friends, I felt like I had nothing in common with them. His high school friends were boring, being small town folks who’d gotten married and started families in their early 20s, and I couldn’t relate, being older and child-free.

The thing that’s so nice about being single is that I can do what I enjoy doing, and who knows? Maybe I’ll meet the man of my dreams during one of these outings. Maybe I already know him. And I realize that’s not the point—although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope it would happen—because the point is for me to go out and do what I enjoy, and to be grateful for this time of singlehood.

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