How to be happy single

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I have been single now for the past 4 years. During that time, I’ve had a handful of really short-lived things and one devastating little affair, but for the most part I’ve been alone and single for 4 long years.

And for the first time, maybe EVER, I am finally happy that this is true. Like … happy happy. Like my life is so full, my-cup-runneth-over type happy. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but seriously I am truly, finally enjoying my singledom. And no, not in this I’m-single-so-I’m-on-the-prowl-dating-all-the-hot-men kind of way. But in the I’m-single-and-I’m-really-happy-alone-binge-watching-old-shows-and-reading-good-books kind of way.

I’m just … happy. Going out, staying in, whatever. There are the occasional bumps, because life is bumpy, but none of them have to do with me being single really. So here are my full-proof steps for getting to a place where you’re absurdly happy being single.

(Note: Ok so these aren’t full-proof, that’s an overstatement. And absurdly is a bit of an exaggeration too. These are basically ‘My unproven steps to getting to a place of general happiness most of the time being single’. Yeah. That’s more accurate.)

 

Step 1: Have your heart broken twice, preferably by the same man.

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It doesn’t actually have to be twice, sometimes one will suffice. But get your heart good and broken. Like good and BROKEN. The more devastating the better. I mean, stop you in your tracks, staring-at-his-picture-and-his-love-notes-for-hours kind of broken. Tears, wailing, binge eating. The works. Sweat pants, no showers, serious weight gain. Like I said, the messier the better. Oh and if you can add in getting banned from his bar, then you’re well on your way to true happiness, my friend.

(Note:  A devastating breakup is not mandatory. Neither is a bar banning. If not applicable, please proceed to step 2.)

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Hands

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I saw hands and I froze.

They looked like his hands. Big. Bigger than normal hands. The hands of a giant really. I couldn’t see the face from across the room but I could see his hands and my heart nearly short circuited.

It’s been two years since A and I officially ended things, two years since my heart was broken. But it’s only been a few months since I last saw him. Last kissed him. Last laid my head on his chest, breathing him in, feeling safe and warm and loved.

And at the same time … not safe. Not warm. Not loved.

I’ve glimpsed him only once in the past couple of months. While walking past his bar, I glanced inside and he looked right back at me and our eyes locked for just a second. No expressions. Just … a moment. We caught eyes and then I was gone, walking down the street littered with memories I’d shared with him. The ghosts of our affair.

To be honest, I don’t ache like I used to. I don’t think about him non-stop. Most days I don’t think about him at all. I’m focused on moving my life forward and it feels good. I feel really good. I have a great job I’m starting to really get the hang of. I have an incredible network of friends who I love. I don’t have a lot of anger like I used to. I don’t replay the moments and beat myself up like before. I don’t sit for hours on end and recount every good moment, every electric kiss and every time we’d stare into each others eyes and feel the weight of our connection. I don’t cry all the time this time. (It helps his social media accounts are private.) I accept where our story ended.

But still … still … my heart froze when I thought I saw his hands from across the room.

Why? Was it because I looked like a hot mess? (I did.) Was it because I’ve gained weight and don’t want him to see? (I have and I don’t.)

Am I terrified he’ll ignore me? Or am I more afraid that he won’t? And I wonder .. is this for always? Or just for now?

I wonder this because the year and a half we spent apart I had many moments like these. I’d see a tall guy with a full beard who resembled him from a distance and my stomach would flip like the way it does when you’re rounding the top of a hill on a rollercoaster and speeding down to the bottom. It would be a mix of excitement, panic, fear and hope.

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Dating & Demon Facing

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I have taken quite the hiatus from dating. A full year. Seriously.

October 2017 was when my last little blip of a relationship ended and I decided to take some time to myself. And I think I’ve been on maybe one random date since?

There are a few reasons why I stopped dating or trying to date. One, I felt like I really needed to just put the brakes on anything romantic for a while. After my heart was crushed nearly two years ago, my immediate response was to jump into dating full force. Probs not the wisest of emotional choices but I was trying my hardest to move on towards something real. I was also trying super hard not to contact my ex. Long story short, I kind of hurricane-d my way through men without stopping.

But after the last ‘thing’ ended, I realized I had a lot of hurt and baggage I hadn’t dealt with.  I didn’t know exactly HOW to deal with it, but I figured taking a break from subjecting my wildly anxious, broken heart on men was a good first step.

Another reason I stopped dating was because I just got worn the hell out. It is EXHAUSTING. The funny thing is, I was the most hopeful, most energetic and optimistic of all my friends when I first started dating about 4 years ago. I was like, this is easy and fun! I was the one encouraging all my friends to jump in, open up, give dating a try! You get to meet new people, eat good food, have a grand old time. This, of course, was my young(er), naive(er) self that had yet to be truly burned by this cold, loveless world. Just kidding. But … not really.

Dating was tricky for me before I started seeing the guy who broke me (lets call him Andy) and then dating got even trickier after. Then … it just got tiring. So tiring.

Banter till you get the date, then pretty yourself up, shave parts, put all the things together and then go see if you even like each other. Or at least like the version of each other that is all prettied up and neatly put together. If you do (huzzah), then you have to start the very slow, very time-consuming task of getting to know each other, layer by layer, to hopefully (if you don’t fuck it up with your insecurities or baggage) get to the place that I SO long to be … which is true depth and intimacy. I forgot how much I hate the beginning parts of a relationship. I love the romance! But then I wanna skip straight to intimacy and deep knowing.

Dating is just …. SO much. I needed a Rip Van Winkle type nap from dating. And so I took one.

However, another reason I haven’t been dating, at least in past 6 months, was because of a very dumb (but maybe also wise?) decision. My ex, the one who shredded my heart before, came back into my life briefly.

*Cue chorus of groans.*  Yup, I went there. Again.

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Welcome to the shit show

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“I thought you were a shit show the first night we hung out,” he laughed.

‘He’ was a guy I’d met while out drinking with friends probably three years ago. ‘He’ (let’s call him Baxter) was also someone I hadn’t seen in well over a year and had ran into while out listening to a band recently.

Not going to lie, it stung to hear him say that. But then … I reflected.

Last year I was in an affair and had my heart very publicly broken. I was also banned from a bar, along with my friends. I gave my friend a black eye (self defense .. have I told that story?). I lost all my belongings to bed bugs. And then found out my dog was dying. Shit. Show.

The night ‘Baxter’ first met me I was out with a group of my girlfriends. We met him on lower Greenville then drug him to our next bar to keep chatting him up and during the midst of that, I decided to sneak away to see the guy I was falling for … THE guy who later broke my heart and banned me from his bar. The guy I’ve written more than a few blog posts about. The guy who I was later in an affair with. Ugh. However, that fateful night, three years ago, we were only just … talking really. I was dumbly and naively crushing on him, thinking it was all very harmless.

While talking to this tall, bearded total RED FLAG, my friends came in to drag me out.  One friend in particular … the one who I later had the *cough* altercation with … was being incredibly bossy and in my drunk state I got upset with her and decided to just go home. I’m sure it looked like I was being a brat (I was). I’m sure it also looked like I was being a terrible woman talking to this guy in general and I’m definitely sure it looked like I was a total shit show.

So… fair statement, Baxter.

I have been/can be/might continue to be a bit of a shit show. But I don’t see that as a bad thing.

 

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Good right now: Or how I found my bench in the sun

It is amazing what can happen in a month.

At the end of March, I moved to a new home, started a new job and embarked on a new chapter in my life. I saw these moves as really positive … and a way to start cultivating better habits. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

What I didn’t take into account was how much the change would actually have on my emotional state. Though the new place was bigger and in a better neighborhood, though my new job is exactly like something I would’ve killed to have been in for the past few years, all this change was draining on my heart. My routine was different, my patterns all off. Most of this was for my good. But even though I might know that on a head level, it didn’t stop my heart from silently panicking and getting overwhelmed. I forget that change … even good change … is really hard for me to handle.

Recently all this change came to a head while I was on a trip in Mexico. I had one of those ‘dark nights of the soul’. Are you familiar? Maybe you’ve had them too. It was, of course, spurred on by alcohol. But every fearful, anxious thought I’ve been trying to squash with talk of positivity and how great and promising this new chapter in my life would be, finally came rushing to the surface. And it brought me to my knees in anguish and tears and a feeling of utter hopelessness.

Memories of my ex, guilt over every loss that was my fault, deep feelings of loneliness and unworthiness, fears that every new good thing will also be taken because so much has, heart ache over unrequited love. A deep pervasive sadness in my soul that seemed too unbearable to overcome. A weight in my chest so heavy it was hard to breathe.

When these dark nights happen (and they don’t happen all that often), they are quite terrifying. I know it’s an emotional response. I know it’s likely sheer emotional exhaustion. It’s temporary. I know this truth on a deep level and yet when I’m in the middle of it it feels as if there is a wall between my heart and this truth. And all there is is swirling darkness and an abyss so deep I can’t fathom ever being able to climb out. And nothing I can do or say seems to soothe me. My only choice is to survive it.

And I did.

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The Big D: Dating (Part 2) – Cheers to all the ones who weren’t ‘the one’

 

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I had kind of an a-ha moment the other day.

It came after a friend asked me if I’d ever been to Uchi, this really amazing sushi restaurant. I was like, yes, I had a really great date there and the food was to die for. Then in the same day the same friend asked me if I had ever been to Meddlesome Moth and I was like, yeah, another great date, different guy. Then it hit me … a lot of the really amazing experiences I’ve had in my life have come while dating different men at different times … and I’m starting to think that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve said it before in my posts, but I have quite literally dated almost all of Dallas. It might seem like an exaggeration but I’m not so sure it is. One of the purposes of this project for me, though, is to write it all down, every good memory, every bad one. Part of that is so that I can unburden myself, put the bad parts and the baggage into words and set it free. Another reason is I want to remember the good, in detail, because this checkered past is a beautiful mess that deserves to be remembered.

When I look back at my record, sometimes I can get really discouraged. So many dates, so few true connections and even fewer have turned into anything more than a 2-3 date situation.

However, like I said, I recently had an a-ha moment.

What if all the guys I’ve dated who weren’t ‘it’, who didn’t last, who got off on the wrong foot, who had terrible timing, who for whatever reason just didn’t work out … what if they weren’t failures.

What if they were all meant to give me a unique experience that was completely necessary and special, but also singular and temporary.

So with that, I want to pay homage to the men in my single, dating experience that gave great ‘date’. The men that came in, even if just briefly, and through contact with them I learned something else about me. I grew a little bit stronger, a little more self aware and whole lot ballsier. They may have been short-lived, but man were they fun while they lasted.

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The icing on the cake: What I’ve learned after the first month of my happiness project

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So .. it’s been a month since I officially began my own ‘Happiness Project’. What is a happiness project, you ask? Well, tbh I’m still kind of figuring it out. It was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s own book ‘The Happiness Project’ and for me, it’s basically a year long project dedicated to discovering what things really, truly make me happy and how I can restructure my life to include more of those things. It’s also dedicated to figuring out what types of things I might THINK make me happy, but in fact really do not.

Ultimately my happiness project is teaching me to be more mindful.

Each month I’m trying to focus on one or two specific areas and dedicate my time and energy to discovering ways to amplify my overall happiness in these areas. February was dedicated to friendships, relationships and self-love. (March is dedicated to moving forward and letting go. I’ll write more on that later, but March is set up to be a pretty transformative month.)

For February, I wanted to really focus on the people and relationships (including my own) in my life who really are so key to my overall happiness. I know that for me at least, it’s ridiculously easy to get focused on lack, especially on the tail end of a heart break. ESPECIALLY when almost every couple in February seems hell bent on reminding everyone that they’re in a relationship and it is beautiful and omg all the love. Which .. yes I am happy for them! For sure! I want real happiness and love for everyone!

However, when romantic love isn’t in the cards at the moment for oneself, February can kind of be a raw deal.

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