Sometimes I’m sad that I’ve never been part of a great love story.
Not even in a small way. No, instead I married young, divorced a decade later.
I’m not blaming anyone. I own my responsibility for the choices I’ve made. Still, I never met anyone who made me feel like a participant in an epic love.
There was a moment when I felt that way—albeit the “epic love” I felt was one-sided, and the further in love I fell the faster he ran. It’s funny how I was so afraid of showing my hand, how I bit back the words I wanted to say and kept everything oh-so-casual so that he wouldn’t feel pressured in any way. And still, he ran away like a scared little boy faced for the first time with a raging fire.
As a writer, I’ve tried and failed to rewrite that love story, giving it the ending that I wanted, which was not the floral cascade and white dress he might have imagined was in my mind. I am many things, but a liar is not one of them. The stories I tell, even in fiction, have a backbone of truth somewhere in them, however small, and I could not tell my own story with less integrity than that.
Instead, the story seems tawdry, cheap. It’s the kind of story that would have been depicted in a dime novel or on the back of a trashy romance. Single mother, new to the dating world, never the type to fall in love at all falls for the first man she dates, a soldier and father with deep-seated emotional issues and a secret attraction to his roommate.
How the single mom falls for the soldier who returns her interest, and the roommate retaliates by yanking his chain.
And the soldier is not a hero.
And the mom is lonely but moves on, devastated but made stronger for it.
It’s not a novel I would ever read. And it’s not even the truth, not fully. There’s no love story there. Just a relationship that ended and one that will never last.
Reality is like that so much of the time. When we want an epic love story, it gives us a comedy of errors. Sometimes it’s a dark comedy, filled with biting wit. At other times, it’s a slapstick parade of fools. Rarely is it a romantic comedy where true love conquers all in a clearly structured, linear timeline. This is not a fairy tale, and there is no one who is going to save us.
It’s for each of us to save ourselves.
Even those of us who celebrate our single status and truly love ourselves, who put in the hard work of self-discovery and make our plans depending on no one, still dream of an epic love. We’ve been socially conditioned to look for our love story, and every part of society reinforces that. There’s so much celebration around engagements and marriage and at the same time so much pressure on individuals who are uncoupled. There’s an insistence by those who are coupled that we uncoupled people hurry up and find the one.
Perhaps our single status makes other people uncomfortable or reminds them of the other life choices available. Perhaps others find comfort in life looking familiar and following a pattern of dating, engagement, marriage and children in that very specific order. Regardless of the reason, there is an assumption that all people will find their soul mate at some point.
The truth of the matter is that many of us won’t.
Many will choose to remain single or will simply refuse to settle for less than what they need. Others enjoy the single state and have no desire to be coupled. There are so many different types of people out in the world, and it can be difficult to be considered incomplete simply by virtue of having a Single relationship status.
Our lives are made up of so much more than epic love stories or tragic love stories or love stories at all. Perhaps our lives should be one big love story where our love spills out into every aspect, not simply in romantic love alone.
What if our entire life was a love story of how we lived?
We could love our family and friends with every fiber of our being. We could love our children and tell that love story. We could passionately love our jobs and our homes, our pets and our hobbies. Our whole lives could be infused with love.
As a writer, I’ve tried and failed to rewrite my life to give it a fictional flair. My authenticity will only allow me to accept what is and to tell that story. My challenge has become to think outside of the box of the epic love story and realize that while I may not have had a traditional epic love, my life is the love story that matters. And I can look at my life and see how much I love my children, my family, my friends. How I’ve sowed love in words and reaped love all around me. How every moment I am choosing love when I follow my intuition and listen to my heart. How love is believing in my dreams and never allowing myself to stay in darkness. How love is loving someone who doesn’t love me back and letting them go. And choosing to keep going and to love again.
While others are trying to pair us up in a comfortable two by two march down a petal-sprinkled aisle, we are living true, real, raw love stories every day. Those stories don’t matter any less because we mark single as our relationship status. Our lives don’t impact other people any less than someone in the middle of an enthralling love story worthy of a fairy tale. And maybe one day our lives will include an epic, romantic love in them as well. But in the meantime, we are not less worthy or capable of living full lives in our single state.
We are living love stories every day, saving ourselves, chasing dreams, revelling in our joy.
This is our love story. This is our epic journey.
No less important. No less worthy. Completely, perfectly enough.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Flickr/Michael Daddino
Editor: Erin Lawson