How many times have I said over the years “I didn’t think I would be single for this long”? Countless. Repeatedly, both aloud and to myself. I have looked around me and seen person after person become coupled almost instantaneously after divorce. Blending families seamlessly. Having great sex. Deep connection. Living happily ever after. Again.
I have been a single mom for 9 years after excavating myself from an abusive marriage. The angst in my marriage had begun during my years of dating my son’s dad and I, like so many women, felt that the next thing – be it engagement or marriage or baby – would make everything better. What I learned, is that not only as each level of responsibility increased but so did the already present issues. The abuse increased, my depression and attempts at numbing increased, and parting with him when my son was a mere 1 year old was absolutely the best option for the whole.
Given that I was a single mom of a very young child (with special needs to boot!), stressed beyond comprehension to simply get through my days with us fed and clothed, scrambling to figure out what was next and how I was going to pay my bills, barely able to function much less get myself out into the world, feeling lousy about my postpartum body which had accumulated excess weight not only from the pregnancy but from the stressful marriage – putting myself out there in the dating realm was not exactly on the top of my list of doable.
So, I have taken a different route. An alternative pathway towards my quest of relationship and, what I can say now, at nearly 45 years of age, I have landed in an empowered and independent state of being. I have found my way into what I affectionately call a “new paradigm of relationship”.
This goes against all of societal messaging. Everything that I have been taught since childhood about growing up and finding a man, getting married for life, having a home with a lovely yard and children running around screaming in delight, having money to travel, and the stability of my man’s booming career while I tend to the children and cook and clean and be happy….you know that story?!? I did not even have that experience for a minute, nor did I or do I want it.
I thought I did for many years. I was at home with a temperamental child, working and trying to build my career, while getting a Masters degree, and keeping us fed with a roof over our heads. I was struggling on the whole. I thought that if I could only have a man to fall into then everything would be better. If only I had a partner to share the load with, to raise our children together, to help take care of the bills, and take the trash out…then everything would be much, much better.
For years, that is what I focused on. It was: Operation Find Man. I was obsessed and put myself online over and over and over again. Each first date that was even remotely good (and, believe me, these experiences on the whole were subpar!), I would convince myself of their potential and immediately begin to place him into the crevices of our life as a trial. What would it be like to come home to him every day? What do I need to do to make this work? To make him happy? Would our children gel? And on and on and on and on.
I would cook for these men, sleep with them, tolerate the lack of communication, the criticisms. I would focus only on when they would actually reach out and say something nice and ask me to do something and buy me dinner. I would pretend that the other stuff was unimportant and, in turn, slowly suck out the lifeforce of my own soul. I unintentionally compromised who I was at my core, did everything possible to become what each of these unavailable, condescending, judgmental, and subpar men wanted me to be.
I own that this pattern, which was on repeat for years upon years, was in large part due to my lack of self-worth, my inability to believe in myself and my independence, and my obsession with finding that perfect partner to make everything all better. A tough pill for me to swallow but one that has propelled me into some deep soul searching and a level of connection with myself that I only imagined was possible.
I have found my own pathway in relationship. I have broken free from the cycle. My relationship with myself is at the forefront. After countless tears, years of angst, and entirely way too much energy spent in the quest for partnership, I have landed in the perfect relationship.
I have found my way to the most exquisite partnership – one that is life-giving, life-enhancing, inspiring, encouraging, supporting, loving, accepting, compassionate, empowering, nourishing, and extremely satisfying on every level. That partnership is with myself. I am my greatest partner, lover, friend, confidant, support system, and encourager. I have landed in a genuine space of connection with myself – that which I have sought from another for all of these years.
Have I given up on the possibility of being in a life-serving partnership with another? Definitely not. However, what I have learned through my years on the frontlines of dating and in my quest for union, it is not worth compromising your integrity to meet another’s expectations. It is not worth the energy and angst of trying to mold into what society has deemed the right path for relationships.
The juice in surrendering to what is and focusing one’s precious life-force energy on cultivating the most magical and inspiring union with Self is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. It is empowering, energizing, and the ultimate act of self-love. It is the way home to the depth of our hearts, to our bodies, and to the place of honoring who we are and exactly what we need as women.
Landing in this space of pure self-love and self-acceptance is a pillar of strength. It is admirable. It is radical. It is a new paradigm of relationship.