The other night, just before Christmas, I woke in the middle of my comfy slumber with a massive, burning, sore throat. I opened my eyes and groped around in the heavy darkness for the bottle of water I had on my bedside table. When I had my hand on it, I opened it slowly and took a sip. I was up for about 30 minutes after my sip of water trying to figure out why, out of nowhere I was feeling this way. I fell back asleep and woke up hours later full on sick. All of it. A sore throat, headache, a possible fever, and a heavy chest full of something.
“Merry Christmas to me”, I said in a swollen voice out loud as I crawled down the stairs to the kitchen, while my own words echoed in my head.
I rummaged around my kitchen trying to figure out what sort of meds I needed. In my mind I went through my symptoms and concluded it may possibly be strep. I was in so much pain and I found myself on the floor near my front door. I laid there on the cold, shiny travertine hurting and confused. I suddenly missed someone taking care of me while I was sick. In my natural habitat of dramatics, I searched for a memory of being taken care while I was sick to comfort me. Then it hit me. The realization that no one has ever taken care of me while I was sick hit me harder than my illness did at 3 am. I realized I could not melt into a memory for comfort because I had nothing to melt into. My mom was not a caretaker. My ex husband was not a caretaker and my ex fiancee was sure as hell not a caretaker. I was the caretaker. Me. I cared for all of them when they were sick or injured. I was just an inconvenience to them when I was hurt or sick. I have never had a “Lifetime Movie” moment where the amazing man who was courting me shows up with soup and advil. I was it. I was exactly where I have always been when I was sick. Alone. In that realization, I got up, got dressed as best I could, drove to the store got what I needed and laid on the couch in my living room surrounded by the things I loved in the home I created by myself. I took care of myself in the same way I have done for the past 41 years and I was OK with it. The moral of this story is you can’t miss what you never had. I faced Christmas single and sick and I was totally OK with it. I had my god kids and my sons with me. I saw friends and I rested. I celebrated as a whole person. But this wasn't always the case for me. And it's not the case for so many other single people out there.
When I first became single years ago ,I felt as if I was left naked and alone deep inside a dark forest with no one to help me. Figuratively, I was on my own in world of just me and I had to figure out how to rebuild everything I once knew. I was lost and confused with no direction. There were nights I was unsure if I would make it to the next day. Days I wanted to turn into night so I could cry and bury myself in a hole I dug for safety. But as the days and the months past I got the hang of it. I got the hang of being single. Unknowingly I built up a routine. I got more and more comfortable making decisions on my own. I settled into going out with my couple friends and not feeling like a tagalong. I started to make my bed differently. I stacked my pillows instead of placing them next to each other. I discovered I don't sleep on the left or the right, I sleep right smack in the middle of my king size bed and yes I do prefer a king size bed. As I grew into my new role, I bought a car, I changed jobs, I lived without medical insurance, and I picked out my own Christmas Tree that I decorate the way I want to. I found comfort in my own home again. At one point home was a scary four letter word, and now it is my safe place again. I had to grow. In order to grow as a person you have to heal. You have to look at yourself and figure out what role you had in the end of your past relationship. It is never one sided. Heal to grow and discover your responsibilities. When you discover your responsibilities, you learn from your mistakes. I had to do this and I did. It wasn't easy, but necessary. It is all a part of being single. Understand that even though being single can be a scary lonely word, its not. Being single is the ability to be free, to live, to make decisions, and most importantly to discover who you are while you are on your own.
Enjoy your Saturday afternoon spin class before you have to replace it with your new boyfriend's nieces birthday party. Right now you always have the right milk in your fridge, your toothpaste is always where you left it, and you always know when you need to buy more toilet paper. Your trash is always out by the curb on trash day and no one is shrinking your favorite sweaters in the dryer. On the nights where ice cream is on the menu for dinner, no one is saying no. When you want to skip a party and stay in, you can. If it takes you 6 weeks to call a service repairman to fix the oven you don't use, that’s ok, no one will nag you about it 300 times a day. Sometimes it's the little things you don't realize you like so much until they are taken away. For me, I am happy in my self discovery phase. Last year was my year to detox and in a sense learn to walk again. This next year is my year to live with the lessons I have learned and see what more life has in store for me. I am not ready for a relationship. I am not ready to give up the little things that so many take for granted. I like my towels in a certain order in my bathroom. I am OK with dishes in the sink, and I can either share my bed with someone, or not. I love that I am in control of my life. I love that I can come and go as I please and I owe no one explanations about my life choices. I am enjoying succeeding and failing on my own for now. I have so much life to live before I give up parts of me.
The worst thing about being single is that it will come to an end at some point. Enjoy your life the way it is now, embrace who you are, and learn to fall in love with each and every part of you, because change is always around the corner.