Being Single: The Learning Curve
I am quickly approaching the six-month mark of being single, and it has been quite a ride. Now that the dust has settled and I’m beginning to get a glimpse of what this next chapter of my life may look like, I’ve reached some realizations. It is a mixed bag. If anything, I think I have learned what I’m going to avoid in the future. I recognize how I got to where I was before. And I refuse to ever go back there.
The anxiety of dating after being single again is something that is on my mind almost all of the time. It’s not even like I’m trying, either. I’m not on any of the apps. I have zero irons in the fire. But I know that eventually, that day will come, and it is absolutely terrifying. It’s something that never used to bother me. It has taken me a while to figure out why, but I think it’s that god damn self-esteem. And it’s something I have struggled with for my entire life.
I knew before my last relationship that I had codependency issues. But after being with someone for several years, it reached new heights. Or is it lows? Either way, I see now that I had reached a tipping point where I became completely reliant on another person to feel OK about myself. I think I did begin to realize it as it was happening, but was both too codependent and probably too lazy to try and change course. I had already dug myself into the hole. Now I have to do the work of digging myself out. And you can ask anyone, my arms are weak as fuck. I literally lost to an eleven-year-old in arm wrestling last month.
One thing I am really trying to work on is being nicer to myself. I have accumulated a lot of self-hatred over the years for a garden variety of reasons. I get mad at myself for being scared of dating again, but dating is scary. Especially in a pandemic! The world is a different place than the last time I was single. While I do feel like the person who used to go to gay bars and reach that perfect level of tipsy to be exactly charming and witty enough to take a woman home with me is long gone, I have to cut myself some slack. I can’t expect to immediately morph back to that person. Also, there is a deadly virus going around. It’s not as easy to find strangers who are down to share their mouth with some rando.
I have always scoffed at all that self-love bullshit I see online, probably because I know that it is true and difficult to attain for myself. I know now that while so detrimental, it is easier to just let someone else love yourself for you. I just didn’t want to do the work. But now that I am on the other side of it, I see the damage it did in the long run. Now that I’m single, I see that it is not an attractive quality to most people to hate yourself. Homework sucks. Nobody wants a project. Even though I’m in better shape now, I think that I was more attractive the last time I was single simply because I was more confident. Confidence is sexy. Wallowing in my own self-pity is not.
I am trying to be more conscious of putting things in perspective. Honestly, it’s not fair to me to compare myself to the person I was a decade ago. I’m in my thirties now. It’s strange, but I simultaneously feel exactly the same yet entirely different than how I was in my twenties. While it can be easy to start beating myself up for not being as sure of myself, I have to be grateful for everything I’ve learned since then. I’m smarter now. I have a cooler job. I have a tendency to romanticize the past. Overall, I’m sure I’m better off now being single. While I may have had a better ass ten years ago, I’ve continued to accumulate a lot of experiences that I can still retell in a funny and self-deprecating way that is so my brand.
So begins the process of not only building this entirely new life for myself in a city where I don’t know a whole lot of people, in addition to all this self-love bullshit. It’s a tall fucking order. But I finally feel like I’m ready to start putting in the work. I’m keeping busy. Between work, travel, podcasting, and a semblance of a social life with a new group of friends that I absolutely adore, I think I’ve created a decent foundation. And I’m going to be that type of person where I can tell myself I did a good job. For so long I never gave myself credit for anything. I see now that one of the basics of loving yourself is recognizing when you do things worthy of recognition. Given the last six months, I feel like I can say overall, I’ve done pretty damn good. There were many times I wanted to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t.
As I mentioned, none of this is going to happen overnight and I have to be honest with myself that my anxieties and fears are still going to have starring roles in this B movie that is my life. But if I can start changing the ongoing dialogue in my head I can make those anxieties more manageable. A lot of times I will take one thing that makes me feel bad about myself and just fucking run with it. Feeling rejected today, self? You should probably ruminate on all of the other times you felt this way. I have to change the conversation. I think if I can grasp onto the things that make me feel good, over time the internal dialogue with myself won’t be so shitty. And if I’m not constantly putting myself down, other aspects of my life will start to get easier.
It’s all connected, which can be both good and bad. But I’m going to leverage this to my advantage. Body dysmorphia is something I’ve dealt with my whole life (like so many other women). If I can continue taking care of myself and one day even learn to love my body, I will feel so much better about other things, like sex. I have a lot of anxiety around that right now though it’s not even on the table. It’s hard after having the same monogamous partner for over five years. I’ve dipped my toe in the water a couple of times since the breakup. The experiences weren’t bad (almost comedic, have you ever laughed into someone’s pussy)? But I did need A LOT of alcohol to quell my self-consciousness. If I can start feeling good about myself, I won’t need so much booze (and have better bangs). After all, nobody is perfect and I feel to some extent most people feel some level of self-consciousness about themselves. Everyone just needs to be nicer to one another. Show some fucking grace, people.
One of the biggest obstacles I face is overcoming the fact that I take a self-defeating stance on almost everything. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, maybe it’s because I think I deserve to suffer, but I consistently resign myself to whatever bad shit I think I am worthy of. I come from a long line of alcoholics. Well, I guess I am an alcoholic, too. I was trapped in an unhappy and sexless relationship. I better put a ring on it and resign myself to a lifetime of mediocrity. I tell myself I deserve these things, but I am realizing who I am to judge what I may or may not deserve? I’m the least fucking impartial judge on the planet when it comes to my own bullshit. I know that I am my own best advocate. I just never did anything about it. But I’m going to now.
It’s going to be an ongoing battle. I have to be realistic and accept that I am still going to have times where shit is just hard. There will be those days I’m walking around bleary-eyed with my guts spilling out for all to see. But if I can start loving myself, by myself and for myself, I might have the potential to actually be happy. Or at least not sad being single. And I can still be the same person I have always been, I can keep the parts I like. Maybe I just won’t make as many jokes about longing for a meteor to hit the earth, or hoping to be mowed down by a bus. After all, my spirit animal is a cockroach. I’m a resilient bitch. If I can learn to be satisfied being alone, one day I might even be…dare I say...dateable.