Friday, August 10, 2012
In Praise of Being Single
Do I really mean this?
I used to be the type who saw a hundred guys at a party, 10 would talk to me, 5 would flirt with me, one might ask for my number and I would sarcastically insult them all for the asshole in the corner who ignored me. Then I would chase him. When I wasn’t chasing him, I would dominate conversations with long tearful minute-by-minute explanations of fantasy relationships. The man had no idea I felt this way, he had no idea why I was acting so weird, and just to close the circle of insanity, I had no idea that I was acting weird.
I never understood why my friends liked the guys they did. They were boring; they would stick around for 6 months to a year doing idiot things like going to the movies, eating meals together (EW!) and building an actual relationship. They celebrated birthdays and Christmas together. They bought each other presents and answered each other’s phone calls. Then the girl would cheat (he was boring, remember) or the guy would and they would break up; regardless of how, it always went down the same way. Compared to my fantasy relationships which lasted about the same amount of time, nothing really seemed out of the ordinary. Except that I did NOT have to go through the pain of loss. I was always going through a fake loss, of something I never had, an unrequited love. I was doing a parallel market version of the real thing. For a smart girl, this is quite literally KHA-RAY-ZEE.
Then the hammer fell. Like the song says, “Nobody lives without Love”. I met him. I met the real deal. Everything in my world pulsed with the knowing that this was The One. Other people noticed us; I wasn’t kidding this time. This guy showed up to events as a couple (late and drunk). He (never) answered the phone when I called. He (never) listened carefully to how I felt and (never) made (any real) attempts to change. But he told me he would take care of me. He told me I was the best he ever had. He constantly asked me for money. For the first time in my life I was in the worst relationship of my life. In short, he was crazy like me and left me flat on my ass. Good for both of us, I guess.
Let me digress…Many years ago, I was asked to be a bridesmaid by two different girls. Through no fault of my own, neither relationship made it to the altar. After that, I became a bridesmaid biohazard. I was never asked to be in another wedding again. In the same way, I never had another deep relationship after the last first worst one. Because I wanted to change and change I did, but the world has not changed with me. How things happen to us is a truly series of unremarkable events that coalesce into a story only at the end to create our personal mythologies. No one who wins the lottery can say anything more than “I was just lucky”. The person who doesn’t win can at least say “At least I played”. I am not winning, but I am still playing. True change is glacially slow and so it has been as I have tried to change my relationships. The men and women I still know, know me for a being a train wreck so I have to meet new friends. Then I have to make a good impression. Then I have to repeat the process until trust is built. Then I wait patiently to see if they invite me anywhere, if these good impressions were enough to convince them I am a worthy peer and if they are currently accepting new applicants at this late date. I can see why I choose to be an asshole and chase assholes. It is way easier than being present. You see, I broke my own heart. I manifested this reality.
Yes, I really mean this.
As a single person, I am completely confident that I am not inflicting chaos in anyone’s life. This is a relief. It’s one less thing I need to pray for forgiveness about every week. I am also not wasting anyone’s time. As I become more compassionate, I realize how much of each other’s time we are wasting. I am also really glad I am not making any really expensive furniture or home-ownership choices right now. The market is bad and there is uncertainty in the future. I feel so fragile that I would not be able to endure the stress of making a grand decision right now or having to justify it to doubting relatives.
I am glad I am single because I do not want to deal with a mother-in-law right now. If one more domineering old crone opens her mouth near me there will be blood.
I am glad I am single so I do not have to pretend to be into sports (except baseball or football). I like sitting in bleachers drinking beer and screaming – but truthfully a game does not have to be playing for me to still enjoy those things together. Also, in cemeteries.
I am glad I am single so I do not have to describe myself as “athletic”. My mother has no conscious understanding of why today’s man wants a girl who plays the same sports as he does. When my mother was courting, men had activities that they did with other men. I often wonder why this has changed.
I am glad I am single for the lack of mess, the silence, the hours dedicated to nothing, museum visits, nothing, reading, nothing, and going for high tea at local hotels. Things are where I left them. My bed is always clean. I lay my cat on a little tea towel in front of the window and pretend he has spent the day at the beach when I get home. I can dream and play without judgment.
I am glad I am single so I can pretend that I will still somehow marry Harry.
I am glad I am single because I do not have to take anything seriously. Young women are so fucking serious. Twice as serious if she is trying to drag him down the aisle and three times as serious if she is trying to get pregnant. I do not have wrinkles or gray hair yet. I still drink on Thursday nights with my co-workers to stave off The Serious.
I am glad I am single so I do not have to text arguments about drinking with my co-workers.
I am glad I am single so I do not have to talk about men with other wives. New hipster wives never know if they are doing it right. They brag about how they control their men, or have long conversations about the most expensive appliances or “stoneware”. I recently sat at a restaurant listening to a woman describe in detail the exact circumstances that have to occur to have her husband sleep in the couch. When I say I am single, they stop abruptly and stare for a moment. They sometimes say “Aw” softly under their breath and the ever so carefully turn their bodies away from me so that I am excluded from the conversation. Cocktail parties are a ritual blessing/curse; I have been brought to the font of desirability and been found unworthy.
I am glad I am single so I do not have to go to dinner parties.
I am glad I am single so I do not have to sit in restaurants staring at my boyfriend silently. I am glad I am not the dining dead.
I am glad I am single in solidarity to every single women I have ever known who has been divorced by her husband when her children were small. This is a special kind of hell and I have witnessed it so many times that it makes marriage look like a joke. This coupled with celebrity micro-marriages makes marriage look like a farce played upon the public to sell magazines. Who could take a relationship seriously anymore? Who is modeling a healthy marriage today?
And yes, I really mean this, too.
A few days ago my phone rang...After almost 5 years from the day we met, two tours of duty in Afghanistan, four provinces and a lifetime of change, my phone rang with a familiar voice at the other end. But here’s the thing; I was all gone. There are never enough words to describe true love, and there are never enough to describe the feeling that is left when you no longer feel it. Was I dead? Mildly disgusted? Upset, offended? Happy; relieved? No, none of these things. I wasn’t even surprised. The truth is, other than being an over-dramatic train wreck; he didn’t know the first thing about me. Nor I him. It was like talking to a stranger. It was exactly like talking to an old man stranger. It was … brief. It was a series of declarative sentences wrapped in silences. There were no questions. There was only the past, no present and no hope of future. It left me feeling empty and distracted … did I order a white Russian or a white wine? I could not remember. I asked for the second time to delete my number, to not contact me again, that I had moved on with someone else. This isn’t true, of course, but I wanted to be kind to him and easy on myself. My future can not include someone who remembers me from before. He also hasn’t changed. Dropping out of the sky is not friendly behavior. It’s the same overdramatic bullshit that would have sent me into a tailspin five years ago and get him the reaction he wanted. He used me then and he is trying to use me now. I can’t control it, I’m not changing my number but one of these times will be the last time.
And I am glad I am single so that I never have to endure that kind of pain again.
Posted by Elle Persephone