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December 16, 2014

7 Things I Learned from Staying Single.

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“I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost

This is a post I never thought I would write.

Yes, I have owned being broken hearted.

Yes, I have owned going through one of the darkest periods of my life. I’ve written about it. I’ve spoken about it in my yoga classes.

But I have yet to own one thing—the title of being single.

It wasn’t until recently that I became aware that I was actually embarrassed to call myself a single woman. It seemed insane to my rational mind, but as I began to excavate and turn in, I found that it was a deeply rooted, half humorous belief that I am inadequate.

It’s taken me two years to have the space for this realization to come through—and I am so glad I waited.

1. I am capable of being alone. In fact, I like it.

After about a year of constant distraction—excessive amounts of yoga, running, dancing, playing, partying—I started to sit. I would come home to my apartment and just stay still. Initially this was excruciating; the wounds of heartache were still open. After a few mishaps, I learned to sit through the pain.

Once the pain subsided, I still sat…. at first feeling nothing, then feeling everything. I didn’t know who this person was without the stimuli, without the hand to hold. Fast forward to two years later and I am finally becoming friends with my thoughts. I find myself laughing often at how preposterous they can be. I also have space for insight. I write more. I create more. I am with myself and finally not feeling alone. I am enjoying getting to know this space.

2. People will let you down.

I am an optimist, often to a fault. I love so hard and so deeply that I wear those goggles that get all misty and covered in glitter, shining clarity only on the apple of our eye and blocking out all of the darkness. Once I stepped into the role of a single woman, I started to see more clearly—I started to take people off of the pedestal of perfection and see the rest of the relationships in my life with a bit more honesty.

We are all human, but some are more equipped with emotional responsibility than others. People are hurting, and they will hurt you, acting only out of what they know. And without that person to lean on, you will feel the pain of this tenfold. They will cancel plans. They will walk out on you. They will reinforce your feeling of being inadequate. You must rise above and love them anyway.

3. People are awesome.

I never realized how closed I had become to others while I was in my last partnership. I thought I was open. I thought I connected with people outside of my relationship. With time, I started to see all of the walls I had built up around myself. I finally knew that what I wanted most was to connect.

I tore those walls down. The more open I have become, the more amazing experiences I am having with the humans around me. I’ve seen more kindness and support than I ever knew existed. I’ve been present for marriages, births and happy tears, and somehow I don’t think I would’ve appreciated the miracle of these human experiences had I not known what it meant to be alone with myself.

4. Alcohol ain’t all that great.

When I was in the throes of my heartache, I drank. A lot. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good glass of red or a local brew. I feel confident that one day I’ll enjoy a drink again and it’ll be like a casual conversation with an old friend, no big deal. But in the midsts of my pain, I used the drink for that cliche reason: to numb the pain.

After drowning in the booze for far too long, I finally realized that I didn’t really care anymore. It wasn’t fun and I felt like shit. Just over a year ago, I decided to end that friendship. Now, I wake up and feel great. My mind is clear, my sweat is healthy. I dance because I really feel the music. My conversations are more meaningful and the people around are genuinely interesting.

5. I need my girls.

I’ve always known that my friendship with my girlfriends is completely and utterly necessary. But more often than not, cuddling on the couch after dinner with Netflix and popcorn took priority over my girl time. When I came crawling to them, my heart in pieces, they never held this against me or made me feel lesser for it. They held my hands, they brushed the hair from my face. They bought me excessive amounts of chocolate and watched hours of mindless reality TV with me. They helped me pack my life into a storage unit and gave me a couch to sleep on.

The selflessness of my non-blood sisters literally healed my broken heart and made me feel whole again. Through this process, I realized that it is these relationships that need to be on the front burner. These are relationships that need to be watered and maintained.

“Maybe our girlfriends are our soul-mates and guys are just people to have fun with.” ~ Sex in the City

6. I still don’t know how to be an adult.

I love to cook, I really do. But I have absolutely no idea how to cook for one person. I don’t know how to eat on a schedule without setting alarms on my phone. I don’t know how to make my own bed without putting a post-it note reminder on my side table. I’m not sure if it was the idea of security or if it was just being selfless for someone else, but I never learned the process of adulthood for me. I’ve found a lot of comfort in being told that this is completely normal, and that no, I’m not a screw up.

I keep coming back to gratitude. Thank god I didn’t keep circling around in my last partnership, all the while never really knowing how to take care of myself. This is new. Two years “new” and scary. But I’m learning. I’m finding a way to be entertained by this exploration of my own potential. I trust that I am growing through this process and slowly learning to keep it all together.

7. This solitude is a gift.

This one took me the longest to know. In these last two years, I’ve gone through every emotion and every insane conclusion about love. Will I ever be loved again? Will I ever find anyone attractive again? Am I attractive? Am I worthy? Will I ever have kids? I’m fine being an old maid… You name it. Sometimes this reel of confusion and pain was so paralyzing that all I wanted to do was sleep.

I’ve finally hit this point—so what? So what if I am all of these things, none of these things, worse things, or more brilliant things? I have surrendered the lack of knowing and the complete lack of predictability to the heavens. I have moments where the utter miracle of being alive is so overwhelming that it brings tears to my eyes. I am learning to hold myself. To accept myself. To love myself. I am learning to heal that old belief in me that I am not enough. And I am okay.

This is for the ones who don’t believe they can do it on their own. To the ones who jumped from relationship to relationship. To the ones who see no spark without that person, I say, trust. I say hold on to that sliver within your heart where you know you’ve still got wild in your soul.

That inner strength, no matter how deep it’s buried, is there for you when you are ready to harness it.

Within this pain and loneliness is the gift of your true self. We must learn to make friends with this other side, so that we can beckon our twin flames in the right time, with a full heart and open arms.

From someone who never thought she could, a single woman, I say, try.

“Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” ~ John Mayer

 

 

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Author: Julia Albertson

Editorial Apprentice: Kathryn Muyskens/Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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