I can define most of my life in relation to a man. Some women can tell you how old old they were or the city they were living in–that’s how they place a life event. For me, every city or every age or every moment, has involved another human. Who I was crushing on. Or in love with. Or getting over.
Until now. Or the last six months rather.
It’s a new thing, to be single by choice, and at least for me, it definitely meant that there was work to be done.
That work has taken some leaning into loneliness and learning how to sit with it. Realizing the difference between really wanting someone or just wanting a distraction. And how to tell that difference. And how important the difference is between a fleeting feeling or scratching an itch and true desire and investing in someone. To take the time to figure it out.
Because that’s what it takes to be single: GRIT. If you really want to do the work, it takes two hands in the dirt digging deep for handfuls of truth. Finding roots and pulling up weeds. Sweating in the hot sun. Getting a good amount of dirt under your fingernails.
But it is so worth it. Even in the moments when it doesn’t seem like it (e.g., definitely tonight).
Because it is work, and sometimes the hard truths you unearth are really difficult to now sling over the fence.
For me, it was this:
For longer than I care to admit, my life has been about wounds. I don’t mean constant pain. I mean scars.
For a long time, who I am has been about what has been left behind–mainly by the men in my life.
An ex. My dad. Some guy I slept with once.
And that’s what you needed to know about me: I almost married that man. My dad and I had some problems. Another one made me small, and I let him.
And sometimes the person hearing these things listened. Sometimes they wrote me off–too much baggage. Sometimes they wondered if they could ever measure up. If they could ever up mean more. Sometimes they knew they would. And sometimes they held me close but let those wonders feed a slow fire of resentment. And sometimes it just didn’t matter.
But how could my story not matter? How could you not see those wounds and want to prevent them or protect me? How could you look past them?
Because it’s in the past, one said. Because it’s not now.
But, said I, it’s part of who I am.
Maybe it can be just part.
Because I don’t explain the scar tissue on my knee or expect you to give a shit about the scooter accident I had in the sixth grade. So why do I demand so much of my emotional scars? Why am I choosing to not just live with them but make them my life?
Maybe I used to think it made me more interesting. More complex. More worthy of love.
Now, I think it my focus on them is just a bit sad. And my blame, well that is entirely misplaced.
Toni Robbins puts it so very well:
You need to blame him much more powerfully. You need to blame him consciously. Effectively. Because if you are going to blame people for all the shit, you better blame them for all the good to. If you’re going to give them credit for everything that is fucked up, then you have to give them credit for everything that’s great….Blame elegantly. Blame intelligently. Blame effectively. Blame at the level of your soul. Not the level of your fucking head.
We are the scars we choose to live with, and happiness is a choice that involves not choosing them. Being worthy of love means being a warrior and charging into battle every damn day–be it against the voice in your head or that vice or those scars. It means choosing to tell yourself a different story than the one you’ve been living according to.
Because the wounds exist.
But so do I. And I wonder if the most important thing you need to know about me isn’t the woman standing in front of you right now. In spite of them.
Strong legs. Strong back. Never going to be a size zero and still learning to love that. Hair that merits its own name, and ass its own glory. Single by choice. Dirt underneath her nails. Cleans up nice when she is ready.
And I’m close.