Saturday, May 7, 2016

Reflections on Being Single

I am all about full disclosure and so I will say again, what I have said before, in my first book, in my life…to anyone who will listen. I suffer from the painful affliction of being human.  Imperfect, sometimes a hot mess, sometimes a train wreck…and every once in a while, a great big side of awesome!

I find life lessons to be the best way to learn and since we are all in this together, I like to share what I learn (or sometimes fail to notice and learn later).  Tonight, on what used to be considered the biggest night of the week according to the Bay City Rollers (S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!), I am writing my blog and thinking about my life, reflecting on changes over time and what it feels like to be single now as opposed to a much younger self.

You might think that writing about being single is synonymous with dating.  It’s not and this is no way intended to be advice.  I’m not dating, nor would I consider myself an expert or role model to follow in any aspect of dating…my first instinct was to avoid, avoid, avoid…well, with little exception, that’s been my first instinct for the first year living single after living as a married couple for double digits.  And I’m only half joking…because I am a glass half full kind of gal, and I tend to lean towards Mary Poppins (when I’m not stuck on the tracks with another train coming).   But hey, it’s only the first year.  I’m still digging out of marital debt, and learning how to be a woman again.  No small feat sporting two rowdy teens and a grown son, who would all but bar the door for anyone he didn’t think met muster for me, his mom.

This isn’t the level of sharing I imagined in my blog, but we’ve moved from 2015 to 2016 since I first talked about my "Civilized, 21st Century Divorce" …and I did promise a “to be continued…” and I have.  I’ve just not been moving along as quickly as expected, and life has smacked me down a time or two, and well…to be honest, aside from extracting a spouse from the mix, I’m living pretty much the same way I did before…except…well except for everything.  It’s an odd thing to try to explain.  I feel completely different and yet completely the same.  Pre-divorce, I had the same aspirations and dreams as I have now.  And if I didn’t look closely, I could leave it at that.  But those aspirations and dreams were different through the lens of my previous life.  Why?  I’ve spent the past several months trying to pinpoint what feels so different.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a new level of anxiety…a little fear of the unknown.  But not for the reasons you might think.  Because regardless of my marital status, I have always been able to take care of myself and land on my feet in any situation.

No, this level of anxiety has more to do with a parting of the clouds and a clear blue sky I’m seeing overhead.  I’m overwhelmed by the unlimited opportunities and choices I now have in re-determining how I go after my dreams and goals. 

It’s like rainy days.  When we are greeted with a sunless sky, covered in grey, we feel like taking a nap, have a slight chill of agitation…or just a general feeling that we are off center. 

And while I don’t want to leave the impression that everything about my marriage was wrong, over time, more and more became less right…and the clear runway we started with, launching into a beautiful blue, cloudless sunny sky, slowly began picking up more and more clouds on the radar and visibility was dense, as if a permanent fog was in the air, preventing me from seeing far enough ahead to wish and dream any longer.

And instead of steering the plane together as co-pilots, I feel as though at some point I became the cruise director and travel planner, responsible for flying, landing, charting, and mapping out the rest of our lives.  I logged more flight hours as he became more and more like a passenger, waiting for the “seat-belt” light to go back off, to explore safely without turbulence or headwinds.

Now back on my own, the sky may cloud over on bad days, but more and more I see sunny skies peeking through.  The future is what I decide and make of it.  And the best part of it all?  I’ve lived this reflection of being single more than once in my lifetime.  And like I said before, I suffer from the same affliction we all share…the state of being human.  For me, being human is giving myself a little slack now and then, looking back and checking the distance traveled…instead of fretting about how much more ground I need to cover.

When I look back on my first reflection…as a twenty-something single mom, I remember a different level of fear and anxiety…for different reasons.  I was afraid of being alone.  I didn’t feel whole by myself.  I found myself in a constant struggle to forge a new life, while waiting for my life to feel complete.  And in looking at my reflection now, once again a single mom, there is way more than my age that stares back differently in my reflection in comparison to my younger self.

I try to learn and consider what changes in life and what is a constant…and how to avoid remaining stagnate and unchanging, without completely losing myself in the process.  I think I’m on the right path now.  Because the younger me was surrounded by friends, marking time until the right person came along.  The more seasoned version of me sees things completely in reverse.  Remember, I said I am not a dating expert.  So don’t take what I say as a formula for success.  But the way I see it now, in contrast to my former marriage, in my life today…there is more right than wrong.  I have learned that living your life the way it is in the here and now is way better than living it like you’re waiting for something better…you are the best person to keep company with.  You are the only person, who knows what makes you happy. 

I used to think that life required a little dash of romance to be interesting and exciting…to be worth living.  My former reflection has taught me this is a false truth.  Over time, I learned that everything in life can be interesting and exciting…provided you are living every moment and not wishing every second away for something else.  Live life big and wide open.  If happiness were a recipe we could all follow and get the same results every single time, that excitement and uncertainty would quickly become yet another routine household chore.  I have learned that every time you go in the kitchen and choose to get closer to the flame, the recipe never turns out the same.  It depends on what you put into it, how long you give it to simmer, and whether or not you want to add an extra placemat on your table in life. 

Said differently, I believe that you begin with a full plate…all things that make you uniquely you and the people and places that make up your life.  And even at its fullest, the time to introduce that extra seasoning or spice largely depends on your appetite for living.  Are you ready to go back for second helpings?  Do you need to moves things around on your plate to make room for more?  Do you want to make room at all?  All great and valid questions…and all questions we all answer individually.

But my biggest learning of all is that regardless of where you find yourself seated at the table of life, you needn’t add a plus 1 to feel complete.  And when you are ready to add some company, chew slowly between meals, let your food settle, and clean your plate before you start cooking anything else.


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