The Single Life

singlelifeThose of you who know me, know how hard and diligently I’ve worked on growing on my own soul since even before I got distracted and sidetracked with the Ex-Hole. Those of you who don’t know me- believe me. I’ve worked hard to become who *I* want to be.

It started after the demise of the 15 year relationship with Manthing, when I was so devastatingly broken and fractured. There was a moment out on that back porch as I chain smoked, drowning in profound loss and suffocating in a pool of murky pain that obliterated everything- a moment not unlike the moment I had when when I was homeless, drunk and lost at 23- where I swore I would never allow myself to be in that situation again. I said one of those naked prayers and asked God, the Universe, Hekate, The Morrigan, my Guiding Lights- SOMEONE OUT THERE LISTENING- for help. No promises, no bargains, no negotiating just a naked pleading for H.E.L.P. I had absolutely no clue how I was never going to find myself in that place again. I just knew it had to happen or I might not survive it again.

And help arrived in the guise of my friendships with some awesome women who are my best cheerleaders; my staunchest supporters,  my best friends and Spirit Sisters; strong women who tell me the truth instead of what I think I want hear. It arrived in the whispering of the trees, in silence, in tears and in small miracles. It arrived in rummaging around in my insides, shining a halogen bulb on the dark, wounded places and clearing away of all the rubbish I had allowed to collect around them.

A large part of that work has been eliminating labels and casting off of the judgments that weren’t truly mine- that societal conditioning I’ve absorbed. It’s involved remaining open to life when everything in me wanted to close down- when even the smallest interaction with someone I wasn’t familiar with required trust I wasn’t sure I possessed. It’s meant believing in and having faith, once again, in something I cannot see- intangible and powerful.

So today, when catching up with an old acquaintance and after mentioning that I was “seeing someone I like very much” I noticed a gleam in her eye as she said quite girlishly, “So tell me all about your new man!”

Wait. What? I was momentarily confused. How did “someone I’m seeing” suddenly become “my new man” without the consent of either of us? I recovered quickly and told her he wasn’t “my new man”. I clarified. “He is someone I like very much and and want to know better. I am open to seeing wherethat leads”. It was her turn to look confused, if not a bit disappointed. There were words about my age and most women my age have adult children and even grandchildren. Wasn’t it a bit capricious, if not too late, to be choosy?

One of the things that struck me most when I moved here 20 some odd years ago was how everyone was paired up. Someone almost always either had a boyfriend or a girl friend, was engaged or married. Single and alone seemed to be the exception rather than the rule and coming from a place like Los Angeles that seemed foreign to me. While I’ve become accustomed to that cultural norm here, I’ve never fully embraced it. The closest I came was when I was with Manthing and something one of my best friends said to me about that time in my life, stays with me. She said, “You just seemed like you’d given up- as though you’d settled and you had no real feeling about that”.

I told you they tell me the truth.

Those words came back to me in that moment and I simply said,”I don’t agree. To choose someone because society thinks I ought to, isn’t what I want to do. I ask no one for their approval. I don’t need a man in my life. I’d like one in my life. I can even say I want one but I don’t need one. There’s a difference”.

She blinked quickly and let out a slight, but unmistakable gasp that I politely ignored. We moved the conversation on to her new projects and her own life filled with teenage kids, their activities and a husband and their charity work and had an otherwise pleasant visit over tea and lemon scones. She’s happy. She’s fulfilled. That is the life she’s chosen for herself and I bet most every other woman in her family and probably her life has chosen that path so she assumes every woman will choose what she has. And hope it never vaporizes for her. I hope she’s able to live it every day for the rest of her life.

And so the need to label and pigeonhole comes again from the outside. You begin seeing a man and everyone wants you in a box. Girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancee, fiance, wife, husband.  Any box but the one marked “Single” in big red letters. The single box is the sad one- the culturally pathetic one.

The single box is the one where you’re free to choose what you want for your life, considering only what is best for you, wholly and completely, until you choose something different. I want  that for awhile.