Day 121 - The Benefits of Being Single
I went to a Super Bowl party yesterday. It was mostly couples. Married people or otherwise committed couples. One of my friends was in an argument with her boyfriend. They handled the awkwardness of being in a social setting with other people well. But you could see the tension between them and I could see the sadness in her eyes. It broke my heart.
They love each other. It is clear. They are working really hard to stay together. But they fight. She describes the relationship as “When it is good, it is amazing. When it is bad, it is awful.” They spend far more time on the amazing side than they do the other but yesterday they were weathering a hard day. All on top of a visit from family and the Super Bowl.
I watched them navigate the event. Both feeling out of sorts and working hard not to maintain appearances but to be honest with themselves and each other while also getting along so that it was not fight night instead of a football party.
My heart broke for both of them. I wanted to hug them both and tell them it would be ok. Go for the love.
But I do not know that it will be ok. Their’s a path that I know nothing of, the least of which what the future holds. Sometimes we hold on tightly, and we still end up losing the one we love. Sometimes, we loosen our grasp and the other slips out of our life. I know they will figure it out and that regardless of the outcome, both of them will be ok and better for their love.
They also gave me a dose of gratitude. I was so very grateful to be at the party alone and unattached. I did not have to think about my behavior up against that of another. I was free to come and go as I saw fit. I didn’t need to worry that I was not being attentive enough, if my partner was having a good time, whether we would fight about some domestic issue on the way home.
I realized what a privilege I hold as a single person. I live a life that is free of that particular type of disturbance. My ups and downs related to my own internal machinations rather than riding the tides of an ever shifting romantic relationship.
As I watched them interact all afternoon, I could remember the pain. The pain of being so close to someone, and yet being removed from them. Pushed apart by circumstance and disagreement, sometimes over large things, often over small. I was forced to go back and reconnect to my own last relationship where there were quite a few times that I spent in that unenviable position of being at odds with the person I was supposed to be closest to.
I can remember feeling like my heart hurt. That the foundation of my life was crumbling. Knowing ultimately that I would be ok but realizing that I loved this other person so much that it made me wish that I had not risked this much intimacy and care.
Yesterday as I stood by as a casual observer, I thought to myself, I don’t know that I have it in me to do that again. Me, doubting whether I am capable of sacrificing my emotional stability on altar of love and commitment. I really am not sure. While there are things that I miss about being in a committed, loving relationship, it is my relief from the parts that I don’t that I find solace.
All afternoon, I was reliving my own domestic problems: painter that let the cat out of the house after being told not to, child that was not really helping around the house to the degree that I would like, maybe buying/selling a house. That was it. I didn’t have any messy emotional turmoil. I would return home, free to do whatever I wanted with no hangover. I could climb into bed anytime I liked. I was free of the consequences of love overload.
I really hope that I am one day willing to risk the pain of yesterday afternoon again with another. But I am not there yet. Yesterday, all I could think was how grateful I was to be single and free from such flack. While I empathized with my friend and her man, I was so very grateful to be free from heavy emotional entanglement.
I arrived home from the party, thoughtful. Wondering to myself if there is such a thing as a happy relationship? Can we connect with another and be connected on a heart level where there is not the crazy ups and downs. Our whole futures being thrown about based upon another’s conduct.
I decided that the risk is rarely worth it from my vantage point. True connection and love something that is scarce in my experience. Now I do see the ending of relationships every single day. I see the carnage of love gone wrong. Of people once in love enough to marry and propagate, dashed to bits on the shores of that same relationship. It does take its toll. However, I still believe in love. I still believe in the connection two people can have together that makes the yesterdays worth the effort. That each time there is discord an opportunity to love more, turn toward our partner and love harder, more deeply and with a tenderness that love requires to survive.
I pray that my friend and her man find that. I pray that they are able to turn toward each other, putting the pettiness of the argument aside and get down to what is really going on. In my experience, what is really going on boils down to two things:
One - past trauma. Seems to me that every argument I have ever had with a man that I love, a result of one of our pasts. The attendant, present event only a trigger from some distant wound that was left to fester for way too long. Now being dragged up from the past, into the present in all of its ugliness.
Two - honor. Honoring the connection that carried the relationship that far. Honoring the love that is hard to come by. Honoring the self as being a vital and integral part of the whole. Honoring each other as the gift that the other represents in your life. Honor being the better part of valor.
So as with most things in life, I was largely happy with my current status, tinged only with a slight sadness at what my life lacked. Knowing that this will always be the case regardless of whether I am single or coupled. It is the nature of things to always miss the thing that you no longer have. Sometimes allowing its absence to be the reason that you lack the ability to reconnect when there has been an interruption. As I puttered around my home last night alone, I remained happy that the life was mine and there was no other that I needed to share anything with and no other that I was in conflict with. I was wistful in my thoughts that hold me fixed in place. Realizing that being alone is reinforcing. The comfort it provides on an emotional front, intoxicating. Solace being a true antidote for pain. Singleness, comfort on the tide of turbulent relations.