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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Whip it good: All about that time I was a dom

An older friend once told me that during the course of a lifetime, most people end up leading at least 5 very different lives.

He mentioned this while we were sitting at a karaoke bar after having already danced earlier that night. It was one of those fun, spontaneous evenings where we just bar hopped and met up with various friends over the course of an evening, dancing and singing and laughing and sharing stories.

I was relaying to him how it seemed crazy to me how radically different my life was from just a few short years ago, when I was married with a house and a yard and I never sang or danced or went out ever. It was so different in fact that I often wondered … who am I? Am I the same person? And of course, the answer to that question was both yes and no.

I used to really worry that something was wrong with me to have had such a change in direction in my 30s. So I found his advice to be quite comforting. And also very, very true. I was indeed living a very different life, hopefully one of many still to come.

His words came to mind again recently while I was cleaning out the trunk of my car and ran across a very long, very serious leather whip and a smaller riding crop. And I remembered, ahhhhh yes … I was a dominatrix once.

Talk about a different life, eh?

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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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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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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.

Continue reading “Good right now: Or how I found my bench in the sun”