When I was little, I used to hate when my mom would tell me, “just be patient.” Mostly because being patient sucks. Also because I am a sucker for instant gratification. We’d be standing in a long line and I’d start fidgeting, “just be patient,” she’d whisper. We’d be sitting at the doctors office and I’d start to whine, “just be patient,” she’d huff. As I’ve gotten older, if anything my minimal patience has grown ever shorter. I can hardly sit through a red light, stand in a grocery store check-out line or wait the 10 minutes for my iPhone to download the latest update without rolling my eyes or weight shifting back and forth from foot to foot. I am not a patient person and I probably never will be. I feel like this may be one of the reasons I have such a hard time being single and why I hate it SO MUCH when people tell me, “it’s going to happen, you just have to be patient.” I CAN’T, I want to scream at them. I DON’T HAVE ANY.
This weekend was hard for me. I spent the majority of it around couples who are now married and completely forget what it was like to be (completely) single and feeling hopeless about finding someone. I tried not to feel jealous as they kissed and showed affection, made inside jokes and talked about going home and napping together. But honestly, I was envious. Envious that they have already found their person, their happiness. It makes me wonder what they have that I don’t. What personal flaws I might have that have delayed my happiness. I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I take being single personally. As if some character flaw has prevented me from finding someone. I called my sister when I got home and told her how I was feeling and she sighed. “Ash, you’re going to find someone. You have to stop trying so hard. Stop looking for it,” she said. “Please, please, don’t tell me to be patient,” I replied to her. “Ok, I won’t,” she said, “but you do need to realize that although it may not have to do with patience, it has everything to do with timing.” I thought that was stupid until a few hours after I had hung up and was replaying our conversation in my head (over peanut butter). My sister was exactly right. It’s less about being patient and more about understanding that the timing of it all has to be right. That I may be the most patient or least patient person in the world, but if I’m not ready or he’s not ready for a relationship, it won’t happen. I’m a firm believer that God puts people in our lives when and where they are meant to be. Some to teach us what we don’t want, some to teach us what we do. It’s just ironic to me that someone who has such little patience is having to wait so long to find the right person. But maybe because I’m having to wait longer than I’d like to find the right someone, I’ll appreciate him even more when I do. Maybe when I finally meet him, I’ll understand what took him so damn long. Until then, I’ll be here (im)patiently waiting.
So, as uplifting as I try to remain being single, sometimes reality gets the best of me and I throw myself a big ole’ pity party. Do you know what I’ve been struggling with mostly? The quiet. It’s in the moments between dinner and bed, between the gym and the shower, between the lying in bed and falling asleep that I find it the hardest. It’s in the quiet of those moments that my mind wanders to dangerous places and I begin to play the what-if game. I find myself teetering dangerously on the edge of self-pity and jealousy when I’m left alone with myself for too long. But what I’ve come to understand is that this is most likely a problem with my self image and self esteem. I have to learn to be okay with who I am at all times, during the loudness and during the silence.
Recently, I was dating a guy who I was really attracted to. He had a good job, a nice body (real nice), came from a good family. But a month or so into our relationship he brought up the fact that he does not support gay marriage and thinks that gay people are “gross”. He told me if I did not feel the same way, we would be unable to continue with this relationship because he did not want a wife or a partner who did not see eye-to-eye with him on this issue. I know what you’re thinking, people actually still think this way in 2017? And yes, there are still ignorant, close-minded people who use their religion as an excuse for intolerance. And so here I sat, battling the desire to be with someone who I really liked versus staying true to who I am and what I believe as a person (which is that love is love is love, friends.) So, ultimately we went our separate ways and I knew it was the right decision. But I still struggle with the loneliness of it all. The loss of it. Heartbreak never gets easier, does it? But this is the truth- I am a catch and if he didn’t see that, then this never would have worked out anyway. I have to have enough self-respect and self-love that I am able to walk away from something good for something better. The quiet doesn’t get any less lonely but I’m learning to find the beauty in the silence. Because if I am only able to bear who I am in the light, how will I ever get out of the darkness?
I am recently out of a long-term relationship and I’ve had a hard time re-learning how to be alone. You get so used to being with someone that when you lose them, you feel like you’ve lost an appendage, part of who you were. You go from being an “us” and a “we” to an “I” and it can be extremely disorienting. For the first few days after we broke up, I would pick up my phone to type a text out to him before I was able to stop myself. I’d see something on tv, in the store, and think “he’d love that.” Something would happen, be it good or bad, and I’d think, “I can’t wait to tell him”.
But it gets easier and the wound starts to heal, to come together at the seams. Everyday that passes is another day further away from the hurt. I found with each passing day that I woke up and didn’t automatically think of him, that I felt stronger and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it had just the day before. A few weeks after, I actually felt like I could scroll through my pictures without catching my breath at the ones of us. A few more weeks, I could finally delete them. And then one day, as I was walking my dog on a particularly sunny afternoon, I felt this sense of happiness come over me. It was like God was putting His arm around my shoulder and saying, “you’re going to be okay.” I was grateful for the opportunity to be single again, to focus on me and what I want. To walk my dog when I wanted, eat when I wanted, watch what I wanted. To get to know and love myself better so that way, when I do find the right person, I can love them better as well. Life is funny that way. Sometimes we gain through loss. Sometimes we find ourselves by losing others.
I am 28. Two years from thirty, twelve years from forty. Thirteen years from a mental breakdown. No, jk jk. I swear to you I was just 16, backing my car out of the driveway on my very own for the first time. Seventeen, a high school senior with a boys hand snaking up my shirt in my parents dark basement. Eighteen, waving goodbye to my parents as they dropped me off at my freshman dorm and drove away. Where did it go? I feel like this must be similar to what parents say, watching their child high step onto the school bus for the first time. Watching them fade from the rearview mirror as they leave them at their first adult apartment. Where did the time go, they must think. But, I am only 28. Before I know it, will I be sitting here in my late 50’s wondering the same damn thing?
I think our society sets high expectations for women these days. They expects us to get good educations, find good jobs. Meet good men and then marry them so we can make beautiful babies. And if we don’t do these things by a certain age limit, we’ve become somewhat flawed. Instead of people being excited for our potential, for our future, they tend to cock their head to the side and say, “oh, no husband huh?” when I tell them I am, in fact, single. When did it become okay for people to interject their feelings about where I should be in my life? When did we start taking this? I am twenty eight. Yes, my best friends are getting married and starting families. And do I want that someday, hell yeah. But I want it to be to the right person, at the right time, in the right place. Forgive me that I have not met the right one yet. Since when did that become a smudge on my worth? I’d rather do it the right way then at what someone else believes is the right time. I’m just sick of it. My ovaries are not going to shrivel up and flurry out like sidewalk chalk when I roll out of bed tomorrow. Did y’all know that?
I have a house, a dog, a car. I can’t cook, can’t do math, can’t be patient. I can mow my lawn, balance a check book, hold down a full-time job. I love my family, believe in God, have great friends and can fix nearly anything thanks to my dad. Since when did the fact that I also happen to be single overshadow all of these other things about me? Since when did society decide that the relationship status we check on I-9 forms and Facebook statuses should allow people to rate themselves higher than another? I can fucking guar-an-tee you I am happier on my own than a whole lot of people are right now who are in relationships. It’s just bullshit. It took me a while to get over this and I am FINALLY okay with who I am. Where I am. What I am. Why do I have to convince others to be okay with that, too?