And the cliche that is me accidentally writing this post in Valentine’s season.
I am single. I like to say that I am very single. But as I’m frequently told, I can either be taken, single or my favorite, it’s complicated. So for today, we will go with this. I am single. And I’ve always been single. I mean unless you count some middle school attempts at dating, and the one guy in college who frequently made me question my singleness. I’m not going to give either of these things credit, so for all intents and purposes, I have been single all my life. As I approach my 26th year of life, I can confidently and honestly say that I am sick of singledom!
I can already hear your thoughts (mind reading I know):
- Being in a relationship isn’t all sunshine, butterflies, and rainbows
- It’s when you stop looking that the right guy will float into your life
- You’re still so young with so many years ahead of you to find love
- Remember, God has a perfect plan for you
So, I mean yes, I know all these things are true, but it doesn’t mean I want or need to hear them. I’m not naive. I know, if not through personal experiences, that intimate relationships are hard. And marriage is hard. Because let’s face it, relationships in general are hard. Case and point the argument I had with my best friend last night that had us both frustrated and hurting. Oh and then there’s that interpersonal relationship module of good old DBT, which is clearly there for a reason.
You may have gathered that the single life isn’t a new thing for me, and may be assuming that I just have a heightened awareness right now as it’s that time of the year, frequently referred to as Single’s Awareness Day. You’d be wrong though. I have become desensitized to the cliche nature of the holiday that inspires you to spend money on flowers (which I already buy for myself on a weekly basis #selfcare) and heart shaped food. It was as I was lying in bed, finishing up reading another book- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero- (yay for progress towards my goal for the year) that I stumbled across the following paragraph, and like a punch in the gut, realized this is just what I needed to both read and write about.
If you’re single, it’s not about boo-hooing the fact that you can’t find someone good or half-heartedly forcing yourself to go on a million dates. It’s about keeping your desire strong and your faith unwavering, brushing your hair and teeth, leaving the house, flirting your ass off, joyfully going about life and being grateful that not only is the person you’re seeking also seeking you, but that [God] is conspiring to bring you together.
— Jen Sincero
So let’s break down what it is that Jen is trying to tell me through her words, and how this then applies to my life. First, she tells me to stop boo-hooing the fact that I haven’t found someone good. I guess that’s the step I’m taking with deciding to write this blog. The thing is, as much as I would like to put the blame on everything but myself, at this point in recovery, I have to take some ownership myself. As I have said, and will continue to say, time and time again, though my eating disorder was not my choice, recovery is. You may be wondering what that has to do with my impending singledom. But the reality is that recovery impacts every part of my dating life (or lack thereof). Just close your eyes for a second and picture a first date that you have been on, or hope to go on. The chances are that this date included food in some capacity- more likely at dinner. It’s for this reason that when I email my dietitian to tell her I’m struggling with food, I get the following response:
Well, you can’t go on dinner dates if you don’t eat dinner!
Boom! That’s a drop the mic moment. Well, almost. You see there’s a lot more weight behind this statement than the simple importance of eating dinner, or the supposed fun of going on dinner dates. Which leads into Jen’s next point of not half-heartedly forcing myself to go on millions of dates. Now let me tell you from experience, that a dinner date with no dinner couldn’t even be considered a half-hearted date. If I’m going to date, I need to full ass it, or else what’s the point? As you may remember, I got on Christian Mingle not long before Christmas, and went on a date or two that didn’t really go anywhere. I then got wrapped up in behaviors again for a little while. It’s funny (in a really not funny way) how I can unknowingly use my eating disorder to sabotage my goals, leaving me in the ever comfortable, but lonely place of singledom. Resorting back to eating disorder behaviors is a perfect example of half-heartedly dating. I truly want to be committed to the idea of dating and to be being fully present when I do go on dates, using my full ass to enjoy and embrace this awkward life stage.
So how do I do this if I have always been someone between half and three-fourths assing it when in comes to dating? Well in the second part of Jen’s rant, she tells me just what to do:
- Keep my desire strong and my faith unwavering. I think I have slipped up on this one one too many times. This reminds me of the importance of prayer, and in general optimism. I am enough and I am worthy of love should thus be my new mantra. Constantly.
- Brush my hair and teeth. And I should probably include showering in this too. Because I hate showering. And personal hygiene is important for dating. I can probably just leave that one right there.
- Leave the house. When I am in the thick of it with depression, anxiety, and my eating disorder, my natural tendency is to retreat to the safety of my apartment where I can isolate and engage in some serious avoidance. In these moments, getting out of the house requires some serious opposite-emotion action. But it’s not like I can actually meet my soul mate from my all too comfy seat on the couch.
- Flirt my ass off. My mum has said that since we had our house extended before I wasn’t even 3 years old, that she knew I was a flirt. Yup, 2 year old Emma liked to flirt with the construction workers! So this just means getting back to my roots, before my life became so complicated. Easy huh!!?
- Joyfully go about life. From my understanding life is better happy, and doing what I love makes me happy, so this also seems like a no brainer!
- Being grateful that the guy I’m seeking is also seeking me and that God is working to bring us together. God has a plan for me to be with the one He desires for me to be with. And that’s pretty cool to think about. Even with all these years of living the single life, I haven’t missed out on Mr. Right, we may just not have been ready to meet yet!
What do all these things have in common I hear you ask. Now that’s an easy one to answer- they are all things I imagine being or doing in my life worth living. Funny how things seem to come full circle. Life outside of singledom will come as I continue to lean into and embrace aspects of my life worth living. I’m all about the action steps- well actually I’m not, but it feels necessary right now. So what do I do with this realization? I actually feel like a therapist even posing this question to myself! The first part of the response seems obvious, given this post thus far: I must keep engaging in recovery. This means eating, engaging in treatment, and absolutely not engaging in eating disorder behaviors. Sounds so easy, right?! Obviously not. But what it also means is acknowledging that with every day I continue to pursue recovery, I am choosing to pursue relationships- with a partner or otherwise.
Outside of this one section of text, the theme of You are a Badass is, yes, to tell you that you are a badass, but more importantly, that how you get there is by loving yourself. Earlier in this post I alluded to the fact that I may not have been ready to meet the guy God intends for me to be with. There are so many reasons I could list that relate to that. But I think much of the problem comes from another relationship, and the lack of one other important relationship in my life. First, being in such a strong relationship with my eating disorder makes it so incredibly challenging to invest time and energy in someone else. Second, because I have spent so much time developing this relationship with my eating disorder, I didn’t have a relationship with myself. With the true Emma. And any snippets of a relationship were, and in so many ways still are, in disgust and hatred of myself. I have been missing this one, super important component of being in a romantic relationship with someone else. I must first love myself. Because how can I expect someone else to truly, intimately love me, if I don’t know what it feels like to even like myself?
I feel like I have rewritten this post a hundred different times. The reality is that I have just kept tweaking the overall message of the article. In previous drafts I had made a commitment to getting back to online dating, and getting myself accountability by setting it as a goal for my group on Monday. But as I wrote I realized that may not be the next best step for me. I don’t know that I am ready for that. Not yet at least. I will be ready. And I will be ready soon, as long as I continue engaging in recovery, day after day, and not self-sabotaging through fear. I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself for being single, or boo-hoo as Jen would say. I’m going to joyfully, hygienically, gratefully, and faithfully, flirt my way out of the front door and towards my life worth living. And at some point that will mean confidently getting on the dating train.