Single, 45 and loving it

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I am a single woman. I love being single.  I’m a 45-year-old woman who is single and finds it to be more amazing than married life ever was.

But, a lot of people in society find that THEY have an issue with me being single, as well as other single women.   I remember when my divorce happened that my mother told me that I would find someone else and that I’d be happy.

Well, I love you, Mom; but, I’m perfectly happy being single.

I love the freedom of it. I love the fact that my house is mine and I don’t have to share with anyone.

Wait, maybe I’m a 45-year-old with the mentality of a two-year-old?  Hmmmm, nah!

The very idea that I love being single stumps a lot of people.  They will say something like, “You just haven’t found the right person, yet.”  True, Carol.  But I”m also not looking.

Being single is amazing.  I travel by myself, I eat out by myself, I go to movies by myself.  I have an autonomy that is liberating and empowering and allows me to make decisions that are not impinging on anyone else. I don’t have to ask for permission or justify why I do anything: why I’m late, why I’m not home at the usual time, why I spent whatever money I spent.  I support myself, I go to school, I do my thing.  And I love it.

I have come to a realization lately that is even more freeing:  I don’t want to be with anyone.  Do I miss cuddling or sex?  Well, the cuddling more than the sex.  Not that I don’t like sex. I definitely do.  But, there is no shortage of that in my life and if I had more time, I would be able to have more sex.  I sometimes miss the cuddling, but not enough to find someone to tie myself to for a relationship.

I recently went on a cruise by myself, a full week of hanging out in the East Caribbean.  I didn’t share a room with anyone, could watch whatever I wanted on the television and was able to take a whole week to recharge and do what I wanted, when I wanted. It was amazing.  I needed that week of being able to isolate myself, if I wanted to, or interact with who I wanted to interact with.  I can’t wait to go again.

I recently read an article about a documentary that was made about being single in the world.  The women that made the documentary pinpointed why they felt sad about being single and they said it came down to “messaging.”  They said, and I totally am summarizing here, that women get two messages.  The first is that they can do anything and the second is that they will not be complete until they have a partner and a family.

These were the messages that I was fed as I was growing up.  Society and, to some extent, my parents made it clear that I could be whatever I wanted to be, but I would never be a “complete woman” until I had married and had children.

My biggest regret is that I bought into the second part of that message.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my boys. I worked hard to be the best mother I could be and they have grown into amazing young men.  I just wish that I had had the gumption to stand up and say, “I don’t want to be married and I’m on the fence about children.”  I know that sounds horrible and it’s even harder to write.  As much as I love my children, I wish I would have waited a little longer to have them.  To have gotten my life together a little bit before I embarked on the journey of forming little humans into productive members of society.

I think that it is high time that society, and individuals, stop telling women that they need to be partnered up and have children to be fulfilled and whole women.  Women are whole people all by themselves and single life can be incredibly fulfilling.  And, after my marriage, I can definitely attest to the fact that being single and making your way through the world is much better than being attached to a partner that doesn’t support you or your dreams.

So, for all of those young women out there, buck the system and make your way into the world that is best for you.  Don’t feel like you have to have children to be happy or fulfilled. If you are called to be a mother or a wife or a partner, then you do you and be happy.  But, if you feel that you are happier unattached or in an informal relationship or just want a fun smash every so often and you have FWBs that can fulfill that for you, then do you and be happy.

We women need to stop letting society dictate to us how we should live our lives to be happy.  These lives are ours and we are the only ones that should be defining how we are living our best lives.

Single, married, divorced, polyamorous, bisexual, lesbian, butch, trans – however you want to live your life, beautiful woman, live it.

You only get one life and it’s too damn short to live it to other people’s expectations.

The Show Must Go On

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When I was younger, my mother put me in a number of dance classes: tap, ballet, jazz.  I loved the dancing.  I’ve always loved dancing and this was a place where I could hone that love and then show off on stage – something else I loved.

This picture is from a dance recital when I was about 5 or 6. I remember this one very well for two reasons:  1) I still have one of the outfits from this recital; and, 2) I lost my tap shoe in one of the dances.

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I remember being upset that I had lost the shoe but equally determined to keep dancing and going through the routine that I had worked so hard to learn and remember for this recital.

And here I am, nearly 40 years later, still dancing with only one shoe.

My life has not turned out the way I thought it would. Not by a long shot.  And I’ve done a lot of soul searching since my divorce 6 years ago.  I’ve come to realize that we’re all dancing with one shoe.  Very few people are in a place they imagined they would be when they were 5 or 6, or even where they thought they would be when they were 16 or 17, or….on and on.

What happens when we are hit with the unexpected?  How do we respond?  How do we handle the challenges that we are given?

In social work circles this is called “resilience.”  Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”  Resilience looks different for each and every person.  Sometimes, quickly is a couple of weeks. For others, it’s a couple of years.  And for even others, it is the capacity to move on while not ever fully recovering from a trauma or traumatic event.

Now, losing a shoe in a dance recital is not really that big of a challenge for many folks.  For little me, it wasn’t that big of a deal, either.  But, the failure of my marriage has defined me in many different ways.  I spent the first year doing some soul searching and learning myself, defining myself in ways that I wanted to be defined. I challenged myself in different ways and I weathered the ups and downs of losing jobs and figuring out how best to work through those times.

Then, I started school.  I went back to college for my graduate degree and really found out who I wanted to be through the love and support of my mentor and my students.  I found my family in them and discovered how I wanted to be defined for myself, rather than by anyone else.  I learned and expanded my horizons, accepting challenges that I never would have accepted before. I finally feel like I’m becoming the woman that I always wanted to be and wasn’t allowed to be because of restrictions placed on me by the one person who was supposed to love and support me unconditionally.

So, who am I?  Well, I’m a 45-year-old woman who is learning how to go through life with one shoe missing and still doing the steps necessary to reach the place I want to be, to become the woman I know that I can be.

The lesson?  Dance with one shoe missing and love every minute of it.  Your journey will take you places you never expected and your dreams with change and evolve with you.  And while you may step on a rock or thorn, don’t let that deter you from your journey.

Because your journey is yours, defined by only you.

No matter how you take your journey, no matter where you’re walking or the shoes you chose to walk in, the show must always go on.  Never let anyone deter you from your dreams and don’t be afraid to walk to places that you never considered before.  You might be pleasantly surprised.