Sometimes, when things change, you have to hold a funeral. You have to light some candles, say some words, feel some feels. Sometimes, you just have to say goodbye.
I got married young. Twice. After my second divorce, at 30, I tried to patch the broken bits with chaos. When that didn’t work, I quit love. I was over it. It was dumb. I didn’t want it. Turns out, that was an excellent decision. I learned to exist alone. I fell in love with being alone and went from a girl threatened by yard maintenance to a woman who demolished a kitchen & then rebuilt that mother fucker. I went from a girl afraid of the dark, a girl worried about setting up a tent 45 minutes from home to a woman who traveled alone across the country to explore wild places.
Once you learn to love your own company, once you find in yourself an incredible dinner date, the world expands. People live their lives waiting for a companion to explore with, never realizing they can just go alone. If you go alone, you get to do whatever you want. You can sleep in or catch a sunrise, stay for one drink too many at a bar in a faraway place with a vibe that feels movie-made. You can do the bucket list things, hike the hard trails, sleep in a trailer on a llama farm. There are no restraints. It is a gift, to go alone, it is a gift to love yourself alone.
Being happy alone is one of my favorite things about me. Feeling fulfilled alone, feeling joy in solitude, feeling comfortable without a partner, in all aspects of my life, is a thing I am proud of. I’m glad I know how to do it.
We put so much weight on finding the right romantic partner, but there’s more to life than that. A relationship isn’t a requirement for success, it isn’t a box to be checked. You don’t have to wait to live until you have a partner, just go fucking live.
After five years of being single, I got real good at the alone. What I found, in addition to being fucking excellent, is that being alone is safe. A fragile heart can’t break if you don’t give it to anyone.
A few years ago, an L.A. tarot card reader told me my energy was like that of a warrior, coated in armor, warding off all advances on the fragile, beating mess thumping in my chest. At the time, it seemed pretty reasonable. I’d built walls, a moat and a minefield around my heart and it was reaffirming to hear that it was safe.
When I think about the last 10 years of my life, it feels like I grew myself from a puddle of broken bits, a codependent heap of trauma, into a woman whose identity is deeply rooted in aloneness and independence. Given that, it is no wonder my heart broke a little when a good, good man showed up and offered me kindness and clarity. She was right to shudder, she knows the warning signs. She was ground zero for the first flicker of feeling.
What happened is, I got walloped by a bundle of emotional turmoil. I couldn’t understand it. Everything was good. I was fresh back from an epic adventure, work was the right amount of busy, my pets were happy and healthy, I was listening to love songs without scowling.
There I was, being smitten, while my heart was quivering.
I was scared, is the thing. Scared to take down the fortifications and scared that this thing, this very new thing that has me sleeping in new beds and weighing alternate futures, will wreck the me who learned to love the alone, the me who feels like the most me I’ve ever been.
Once, I officiated a wedding. I said good words, especially about happiness, about how if something brings happiness & light into your life, you should go forward with it because happiness isn’t always a thing we get to keep. I said love is a honey badger, that it does whatever the fuck it wants, when it wants.
Last week, I pulled up all the words I said at that wedding. I needed them to remind me that it’s ok. It’s ok to find joy in something other than solitude. It’s ok to be in a relationship and still go alone. It’s even ok to believe love might still exist. It’s all ok.
Maybe my heart will break again. Maybe it will hurt so much I’ll barely be able to breathe, but we, me and my heart, we’ve survived before. We’ve done hard things. We’ve managed.
So, sure, maybe it will hurt. But maybe it won’t.
Maybe it won’t.