I’m “The Available One.”

For the last two years, I’ve been the third wheel, or I’ve missed out on date nights with the rest of the group because I make an unequal number, because I’m lacking a partner. I can do whatever I want and go wherever, but I either choose to do it alone or I invite a friend. Then I wait.

I wait for her to check her significant other’s schedule, juggle her own wild affairs, then toss around her children’s chaotic calendar, and then she gets back to me. I’m the first one called when my friends want to have a night off or get away from their everyday stress. Why? No, it’s not truly that I’m the crazy fun friend. I don’t create the easy atmosphere. I’m called first because I’m the available one.

I’m the available one. I’m emotionally open to carry their burdens. I’m financially free to go wherever and eat wherever, whenever. I’m open to please others with my free schedule because I don’t have to check with my spouse or find childcare. I’m available.

I’m lighting up social media with my check-ins and dropping posts about my carefree lifestyle. I taste the best of foods, and I’ve gained a great wealth of recommendations for date night. I’ve experienced all of the local wineries and I would have learned more about ales and hoppy flavors, but I don’t enjoy beer, though I find crafting beer an art form. I renamed 2016 to the year of “Treat Yoself 2016.” I bought anything I wanted and desired. I changed jobs, made a drastic move, and then woke up one day and decided I wanted more. So I moved back home and then I bought a house.

For the last six months, I’ve stripped paint, sanded, painted, pinned extravagant ideas on pinterest, and then made them come to life. I’ve reorganized the same bedroom three different ways. I spent any day off thrifting. Sometimes even before I made it into work, I would’ve already stopped at every Goodwill and yard sale along the way. Every nook and cranny in this home has been filled with treasures I’ve found and collected.

For the last year, I’ve taken extra hours, signed up for extra tutoring, giving myself and time to whoever would take it just to make ends meet. I poured myself into every job I held. I put extra time into becoming a better educator. I dug through my resources, finding more fun ways to learn and practice skills for tutoring. I watched short clips on the latest trend in makeup artistry. I spent an extra hour some days working on my cat eye. I lost sleep at night trying to get ahead for the next day.

Sometimes, the ends don’t meet. Sometimes, the needs aren’t met this month or next. Thirteen hour days led to being sick, alone on my couch in this treasure filled home. I missed 14 days of work. I was condoned for missing work, even though I couldn’t help that I had strep a few times, the flu for over a week, and several cases of swollen tonsils and lack of sleep.

I tried being busy with my jobs. I missed the opportunities to further my education, because I was more worried about paying the bills because I wanted to live alone in my house of treasures. Plus who had the time with thirteen hour days most days?

I tried getting healthy and fit. I tried fitting in time for a workout, but when was I going to gain the energy I needed if I kept taking hours away from my time to sleep? I meal planned for several weeks. I tried the Apple cider vinegar diet. It helped suppress my appetite and I ate lots of veggies and cut out my normal excess of carbs. My friends noticed my effort and cheered me on. Then, I got sick for two months and salads already lack taste enough without the discomfort of being sick and needing comfort food.

I took my sick days as an opportunity to catch up on sleep. When I wasn’t resting, I tried to give myself energy by soaking my tired bones in hot water. I added fancy lights to lighten my mood. Candles and bubbles added extra drama. I tried romancing myself. I listened to motivating speeches and YouTube videos of my favorite pastors, studied scripture, praised and worshipped with Pandora, and even journaled in my bible. I prayed constantly that the desires of my heart would leave. I went to church when I could drag myself out of bed. I listened to sermons on the way to work. I drove up my data bill on my phone because I stayed hungry for more encouraging words.

I tried reading a book, but I’m not a reader. It has been a year since I started and I have a few chapters left. I renovated parts of my yard and repainted my doors. I chopped down hardy wood bushes. I made my house more welcoming to the visitors I rarely had. I gained knowledge of tools I’ve never used before.

All the while, I’ve filled my days off with plans to travel and see new sights. I’ve stopped at new restaurants to try the most talked about dishes. I saw several musicians and comedians that were on my bucket list. I bought my first piece of art. I made plans to go to new festivals. I made it to some and some plans fell through. I put lots of miles on my car and I took some friends along for the ride. I’ve made some memorable moments.

I haven’t learned to cook for one person. It’s easier and arguably cheaper to eat out. I’ve not become fitter or healthier. I haven’t overcame depression. I lost some friends and I’ve gained some. I’ve been their pillar when they needed one, and when I reach out, some are there to return the favor. Most days I don’t share my lows and I don’t give them the opportunity to be the stable force in my life I need. I’m stubborn in my desire to be strong.

But there’s a breaking point. There’s a depth they cannot reach. There’s a void they can’t feel. There’s a hole that adventures and treasures can’t fill. There’s a place my faith runs dry. It’s where I lose out on Friday nights and the odd hours in the mornings best kept for snuggling.

Its the void people want you to choose to forget. They’re honestly tired of hearing your remarks and your hurtful comparisons. They want you to rejoice in their milestones of engagement, marriage, and then baby announcements. So I do. But when the last hour at night closes in, and you’re stripped of your makeup and jeans, you’re not allowed to feel like you somehow missed out on those milestones. You’re remined that you’re the available one. You’re free to wander and roam. You’re able to change the color of the walls without compromising. You’re traveling and experiencing. You’re available!

If I see one more post shared on social media directed to me, titled “Reasons To Love Being Single” or “Other Milestones to Celebrate Besides Marriage,” I may reach my breaking point. Most of the posts are written by girls five years my junior. Of course they’re single and enjoying life alone, they’re still young adults! If you’re the one who is married or in a serious relationship and you’re sharing these blogs like words of encouragement, stop. You’ve not experienced being single in my shoes, at my age. I’ve tried all the reasons. I’ve checked off my bucket list. I’ve prayed for my desires to change. I’m working on my bitterness. I’m seeking God. I am praying; quit reminding me He has a plan. These aren’t encouraging words. They fuel my fire within. I become more burdened that I lack friends who truly understand. If you understood, you wouldn’t say a word. It you must fill the silence, you would tell me you don’t understand God’s timing. You would say you’re fighting God at night too. You would say you wonder if my prayers are heard. You would help me make a Plan B. Life is better experienced with a partner. I’ve gained so many experiences and I’ve been cultured. I’ve bought a house. I’ve learned what I do and don’t like. I’ve been on more first dates than Drew Barrymore with amnesia. I’ve became a new me and I’m still the available one.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.