Several months ago I wrote a post about part of my journey in singledom. (No, singledom is not a real word, but don’t worry. We writerly types are authorized to make up words.)
(P.S. Writerly isn’t a word, either.)
I digress. I wrote a post, and it was mostly reactive and not at all intended for . . . well, anyone to read because there are many, many other voices out there who say things far more beautifully (and FREQUENTLY) than I do here in this small, cozy little corner of the interweb. (Another not-real word. Are you counting?)
But I wrote it as I write most things here — because there were words itching in my throat and fingers to be given a voice, and although there are times I couldn’t coax them into the light if my life depended on it, there are other times that the words refuse to be silenced and it seems to be my only job is to show up and open the floodgates. So I wrote this little post about being single and about not waiting and about saying yes to your life — singleness, and all.
And that little post went kind of nuts. I even saw it pinned on Pinterest, for heaven’s sake! Me. Pinned. The world has officially lost its mind.
At first I was a little confused, but then I realized — there is a lot of talk about how to end up in a relationship, why you aren’t in a relationship, what you can do with your life if you’re not in a relationship, but there still aren’t many people out there who know how to be comfortable alone. And I’m not just talking surface-y comfortable, when you’re okay with saying the words but don’t let anyone see how deep they cut. I’m not talking about the pretend comfortable you put on like a shirt in the morning or when your grandma asks you for the thousandth time why you’re not married yet. Those kinds of comfortable aren’t real — they’re for show and, mostly, they stay tossed in a dirty pile on your bedroom floor, don’t they?
I’m talking about the kind of comfortable that goes to the bone, the tender, sweet center of who you are. I’m talking about the kind of comfortable that knows how to hope for a thing without being wrecked or defined by that hope. The skin kind of comfortable.
And I think that’s what people needed to hear. It’s okay to relinquish the need to hold on to your discomfort. It’s okay to sit back in your singleness and just live life, regardless of how it makes other people feel. It’s okay, believe it or not, just to be you.
Friends, mostly I life a simple life. I go to work and I love my work. That’s not so risky. I do doctor’s appointments and dentist’s appointments and take my car in to be worked on. (Actually, my car IS an adventure, but that’s a different topic of discussion. I could win awards for bravery and courage in the face of extreme oppression for continuing to drive. I’d blame the vehicle but the truth is I have the spiritual gift of car problems, and that is not a lie.)
And I do that life alone. And I want to be wild and risky and exciting, but mostly I am simple and sometimes, a little afraid.
Look, we singletons out there know something other people don’t: Living life alone isn’t always easy. It’s stressful. Your married friends don’t know what it’s like not to have a husband to call when your car breaks down on the highway. (All the time. I’m not exaggerating.) Your married friends don’t know what it’s like to come home after a stupendously difficult day at work, when you’ve failed and made a fool of yourself in a thousand small ways and not have someone in their corner, not have someone who will be a support and a strong shoulder when that’s really all you need.
Actually, some of your friends do. Maybe most of them. Their relationships aren’t all roses and date nights, you know.
Because there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.
So, my single friend. My fierce, beautiful, delightful friend. Don’t let your relationship status tell you who you are. You may be alone, but lonely? Well you just kick lonely to the curb.
Lonely is a lie that tells you you are not enough. Lonely is heartbroken, and although it’s okay and sometimes even necessary to be heartbroken, it’s not okay to stay that way. Heartbroken only works on you for a season and then, like skinny jeans and side-pony’s, there’s a time to retire the style. (And yes, just like both those things, it will make a come-back. And that’s all right, too.)
Lonely will tell you you’re going to wake up alone, but it won’t tell you that that won’t be until noon, because it’s 2 a.m. and you’re still up with your hot, spiced cider reading and Googling whether hot spiced cider has caffeine in it — just because you can. Lonely tells you there aren’t warm, squirmy toddlers to crawl into bed and wake you up too early, but it won’t tell you that you have about a gajillion friends who would gladly share bath-times and cuddle times and story times with you and their warm, squirmy toddlers. (And they’d especially share the zero-dark-thirty-wake-up-call, projectile vomit, tantrum-in-the-grocery-store times with you.) Lonely will tell you you’re alone, but it won’t tell you that being alone isn’t a commentary on your worth, the value you add to this world, or the amazing bravery that is sometimes required to face your life, fully, with no quarter asked and none given. You’re a warrior, my friend. Lonely won’t tell you that.
Life is rich enough and deep enough to hold all of us together — singleness doesn’t have to break you apart.
So what I want you to do is this: Fill your house with laughter and friends. Invite their kids with them and buy a bucket of toys so you can have a quiet glass of wine with the girls. Create beautiful things and hang lights in the garden and build a fire and sit by it and listen to the sweet summer locusts buzz, watch the cars go by, and stare into the flames like they hold the key to the universe and consider all the beauty in your life. Let that beauty crack you open, like the heat breaks apart the logs, and let it rise up in you, dangerous and mesmerizing and say yes.