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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The 30,000: Or why it’s time to take the leap

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I remember the first time I felt it. That stirring in my chest, those butterflies in my stomach that told me I needed to do something … something different than what I was used to.

To take a ‘leap’ if you will.

I’ve said it before, but I spent the bulk of my life super sheltered and isolated. Too scared to experience the outside ‘sinful’ world, too scared to rebel or to not follow the rules or to try anything new or different. Out of fear of failure. Out of fear of doing something ‘wrong’ and making a mistake.

Then I watched a movie. And ok … this is going to sound dumb, but it’s literally the truth. I watched ‘Yes Man’ and oddly enough, it changed something in me. It was a silly movie but it made me realize how much I was missing out on by saying no to everything that scared me or made me uncomfortable.

So then, when a girl I worked with (and wanted to befriend) asked me to take a muay thai/conditioning class with her on a Saturday morning, I heard all the old familiar voices in my head saying, ‘no, don’t do it. It’s scary. You’re too fat. You’re going to look stupid.’

But underneath those old familiar voices was something new. A tingle of excitement. A curiosity. What if said … yes, instead of no? What could that mean for me?

So I did it. I took a leap and I gave something completely new a shot. I need to give you a little bit of context too – I was never in my life an athlete or someone who worked out. I’m not coordinated or agile. I quit PE in junior high because they tried to make us run a mile one time and I thought that was just torture. So let me tell you, saying YES to a kickboxing and conditioning class was incredibly terrifying for my totally out of shape, never-ever-been-in-shape ass.

Needless to say, that first class was tough and scary and I did look foolish, but I survived and it was wonderful. And more importantly, I learned of the exhilarating rush that comes from pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and trying something new.

I was hooked. After that first time of saying yes, I began to say yes to a lot of new things. New social experiences. New friends. New job opportunities. When I’d feel that tingle of excitement coupled with that voice that says ‘oh no, not you, you can’t possibly do that’, I knew that it was likely something I absolutely HAD to do.

And so I conditioned myself to run towards the things I was most frightened of.

Leaving a stable but unhappy relationship to try being single, living on my own in Dallas, setting up fierce boundaries at work so that I am allowed to create in the way that fits me best, trying out theater again, traveling solo internationally, singing karaoke at places all over the world, training muay thai in Thailand. All scary things that seemed impossible to me at one point in my life, but now they are things I have experienced and loved.

However it has recently come to my attention recently that I’ve stopped taking risks, stopped taking … leaps.

It might not look like that to the objective bystander, but that’s the thing … I keep trying things that for whatever reason aren’t that scary for me now. Singing a new song in a completely new place … not that scary. Trying out a new dance class … uncomfortable, but not that scary. Traveling to a foreign country … well, a little scary but the excitement of it all outweighs any fear.

I’ve become comfortable with the risks I’m taking. Which means they’re no longer risks.

Continue reading “The 30,000: Or why it’s time to take the leap”

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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March is for ‘Moving Forward’: Or how I learned to let go in my way

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I’ve always struggled with letting go. It’s a really strange and difficult concept for me. I think partly because it seems like … so sad in a way to me. Rose should’ve NEVER let go of Jack, just saying.

My struggle with this concept of letting go (which incidentally means I also struggle with acceptance, but that’s another post for another day) keeps me holding on to the past well past it’s expiration date. This makes it really hard to live in the present. I end up spending the bulk of my time either reliving the past or trying to envision a brighter future versus just being right where I am in that exact moment. My friends have all noticed this, counselors too. The advice? Let go. Let go of the past. Stay in the present.

But … how?

Seriously.

No one really has an answer for that. It’s unique to everyone I suppose.

Letting go of the emotions attached to a previous experience is especially difficult for me as I am a deeply feeling personality type. This means when I do relive the past, I relive every emotion associated with an experience. If it’s a pleasant one, then that’s great! If it’s a painful one (which, let’s be honest … the painful ones are the ones most people struggle to let go of), I am basically recreating the exact same awful emotions I felt the first time. It’s a cycle of repeated suffering and torture and it’s mostly self-inflicted.

There’s the ick part. The good part is I may have found a way to stop the cycle.

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Single and the Sickness: Or how I’m learning to ‘adult’ my way

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The movie ‘How to be Single’ starring Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson was sadly pretty forgettable … with the exception of one incredibly relatable part. The scene where Dakota Johnson is trying to get dolled up for a girls night and is literally throwing her shoulder out of socket to zip up her sexy dress. A small moment, but so so relatable.

Later that evening she returns home drunk and exhausted and attempts to again twist her arm all sorts of ways to unzip the dress. She eventually gives up and falls asleep fully clothed. Again, super relatable.

I have been this girl. (Although when this has happened to me at the end of the night, I am usually eating a donut and/or slice of pizza and wake up to crumbs/sauce all over my ‘sexy’ outfit.)

Much like Dakota’s character in the movie, I had also chosen to end a long term relationship to finally experience what it is to TRULY be single (well, that and the fact that he was kind of a jerk). And I too had taken for granted how nice it is to have someone to reach your unreachable parts. Of all the things in a relationship I miss, I’d actually forgotten this little thing until recently.

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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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A love letter to the woman I am now

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The other day I decided to unload all the photos off my iPhone onto my computer because I was running out of space.

After they’d all imported, I started to look back at pics from three and four years ago in my iPhoto library. Photos taken in the year after I left my ex.

It’s strange. In so many ways I felt like the 8 years I spent with Jay were basically … just the same. Day in, day out. It was like for 8 years I stopped … growing. Stopped evolving. Or maybe it was just … slowed? I don’t know. That time in my life feels sluggish and half lived.

But looking back on the images from four years ago, when I finally left, it’s shocking to me. The things I went through, the lessons I learned. So so many in such a short amount of time. And I watched them all unfold again while looking through my pictures. I remembered each moment and what it felt like to be experience these things for the first time.

I looked back at that version of me, all full of hope and excitement and just sheer creative power .. finally feeling like a beautiful, desired woman. But also … if you really looked in her eyes … full of such deep rooted fears and insecurities and self doubt. I wanted to hug her and tell her to hold on, this ‘becoming who you’re meant to be’ is going to be a long, painful, thrilling and heartbreaking process but it will be for your good. I promise.

It’s amazing to me too because at that time, I was in the best shape of my life. My face was thinner, my arms were toned and defined. And yet .. the sad truth is? I have many pics that I took simply to look at the parts of my body I didn’t like and shame myself for them. I have a serious amount of sexy pics too (which I’m glad I took because GD I looked good), but to see me struggle and obsess over that last bit of roundness and softness just breaks my heart. For the girl that I was.

So … as much as this month is dedicated to loving friends and building relationships, I also want to dedicate it to loving myself. To loving the woman I am now.

Because to be the woman I want to be in the future, the woman I KNOW I can be … I need to love all that I was before and all that I am now.

So here goes … I am 35, single and I love myself.

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