About three weeks ago, I decided to make a change. I wanted to be alone. As a person who has spent the better part of five years unconsciously trying to avoid being alone, this was sort of a big deal for me. For most of that time I had been jumping from serious relationship to serious relationship…out of love, yes. But also out of fear. After many bouts of depression, I was petrified of being alone and facing my demons; I liked the safety and security of knowing I could always pick up the phone and run to someone who loved me. And while I will never deny the beauty and selflessness of that kind of reliance, I acknowledge now that it wasn’t always healthy for me.
Last January, my partner moved out-of-country. I was screwed, to put it frankly. My friendships were shot to hell; my courage was buried under self-loathing and pity. I withdrew from the world and everyone in it. And from that spiral of depression I hit rock bottom—quit school, quit my job, quit my life in that town and ran back home. Though I was ashamed of these decisions at the time, I don’t regret them. They were scary and awful…and exactly what I needed.
Everybody says to do the things that scare you. This has been my mantra for years. But during most of the time I took that as my excuse to dive into relationships headfirst without taking a breath. What I should have done was take some time: for myself, by myself. I realized all of this about three weeks ago, in the midst of yet another serious relationship.
So we decided to take a break. I needed to know I could still accomplish my dreams of traveling the world, and I needed to know I wasn’t in that relationship simply because it was comfortable. It wasn’t exactly an easy time for us either—medication had made my libido completely evaporate, and the passion between us went with it. I constantly felt guilty because of this, which made me start to distance myself from my partner.
And just like that, we were broken up yet again; I was on my own. And for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t struck by paralyzing fear. I felt okay…the world wasn’t ending; the sunlight had not been buried by clouds. I was free to do whatever I wanted, and I did just that. I spent time at home more, I tackled projects I said I’d do months ago, and I planned new activities to try. I slipped back into a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time: self-reliance. I was alone, yet perfectly content.
Only then did I realize how stressed I had been. The combination of a full-time school schedule, a part-time work schedule, and squeezing relationship-time into all my free time had done a number on me…it wasn’t until I sat in my room one night and let it dawn on me that I had nothing to do…not one thing…that I felt delirious with joy. No more living half my week at my partner’s place, no more driving, packing, planning, and no more feeling guilty for being tired and drained when we finally had a chance to enjoy our time together!
This time by myself has been so important to me… I have woken up, taken charge of my life, and decided what needs to change and what doesn’t. Sometimes that means burning bridges and disappointing the people you love, and other times it means building bridges and letting yourself love more. Like always, I had let my tendency to people-please get the best of me these past months…But now, I feel self-aware enough to say no sometimes, and make my own plans. After all, if I’m not taking care of myself then I can’t give the people in my life the love they deserve.
And they deserve so, so much…
Hey guys. So, in the spirit of venting and desperately attempting to remain positive, (and the fact that I’m getting close to my period and am therefore pretty sassy—hey, it’s relevant) I’m sharing a list with you all today instead of simple prose ranting. Hope you’ll find it as tolerable as I do.
Reasons To Look Forward To Being Single (And Not Fall Into A Pit of Despair When My Girlfriend Moves Away)
- I get to hate everyone else’s music and become a music snob. My music rules over all. No more testing people on how much I can not judge their music taste (A crucial test if anyone is going to spend significant time with me).
- Dressing up and looking hot whenever I feel like it. Also, on the flip side, no longer dressing to impress. I see a lot more sweatpants days in the future…but who knows, maybe I’ll wear some makeup and shit, too.
- Continuing to not shave my legs (my girlfriend is awesome and doesn’t care about that kind of stuff anyway, but it’ll be nice to keep giving zero fucks when she’s gone).
- Spending tons of bonding time with my friends (that will probably include wine and bitching about our lives).
- Watching all of my cheesy rom coms that I’m too embarrassed to watch with significant others. And then always crying at the end.
- Always having time to do my homework, although I’ll probably still put it off anyway.
- Going back to scorning Valentine’s Day like every other single person.
- That hopeful feeling you get when you go out and see someone cute. ( Followed by: Ohmygod they’re looking at me! They’re looking…They’re looking…aaannnd wait who’s that girl? Maybe she’s just walking by…keep walking…keep walking…No! Why is she talking to them? Is she their…wait, is she…oh fuck. Yep, definitely their girlfriend.)
- Mercilessly flirting with random people and then not following through. (Example: “So, you wanna continue this conversation back at my place?” “Nah.”)
- Using my time for things I’m always in the mood for, like reading, crafting, exercising, sleeping, not wearing pants, and singing loudly and off-key to dorky songs.
The truth is, it’s going to suck. And I’ll probably be super mopey and think all of the things on this list are bullshit for at least two weeks. Because I love my girlfriend and I’m going to be a mess once she’s gone. But I’ve been a mess before, and I’ve gotten through it before. I used to be a pro at being single, and I’m sure with time all of my single skills will come back to me. After all, nobody watches Netflix and eats junk food better than I do.
Here’s to staying positive, and silently hating all couples everywhere! Cheers!
Readers, I have had a moment of clarity, and believe it or not it happened when I watched that cheesy old ’80s movie My Best Friend’s Wedding. In case you haven’t seen that movie, Julia Roberts realizes she’s in love with her best friend Michael when he tells her he’s marrying some chick he just met (Cameron Diaz). So Julia Roberts goes to Chicago to break up the wedding and make Michael realize they belong together. Anyway, SPOILER ALERT: they don’t actually end up together. He marries the other girl anyway, even after Julia Roberts confesses her love for him. And throughout the whole movie you can see, she has such a hard time admitting her feelings for him because of her stupid pride and because she probably doesn’t love him for him, but because she loves the way he loves her. But I’m getting off topic—that’s not my point.
See, you spend this whole movie thinking that they are perfect for another, and that if the universe would just let them, they could live happily ever after. But then Julia Roberts is left alone at the wedding while Michael goes off on his honeymoon with Cameron Diaz. And she just looks so sad and her future seems so empty. But, then, her gay friend George shows up. They start dancing together and Julia starts laughing and smiling…and holy crap, it just might be okay!
So it got me thinking. Fred and I don’t get the happily ever after that I thought we would, and yeah, that sucks. But I’m still fucking Julia Roberts. And while I don’t have a gay friend named George to dance with, I’ve got plenty of other friends who will help me through the rough times. And even though my girlfriend is leaving for Costa Rica in a month doesn’t mean my future is hopeless or that my life will be empty. It just means that life changes, and my future will change along with it.
I started thinking about my future and asked myself what I wanted to do once my girlfriend was gone and I stopped using Fred as an emotional crutch from time to time. I didn’t ask how I would cope, or how I wouldn’t get lonely, or even how I would make myself happy—I asked myself what I wanted. And it all came to me.
I want to paint. And read. And go to coffee shops by myself and pretend to be more pretentious than I am. I want to finish the next two semesters and graduate with my bachelor’s degree, then work for a bit and get my master’s in a foreign country. And I want to make more friends and play board games with them. Because I know I’m attractive and that people want to fuck me…and while that sometimes feels good to know, it’s not really that important.
So you know what I did? I drove up to Fred’s place. And I laid down my cards; I told him we shouldn’t talk at all anymore, because all it did was hold me backwards. Talking to him makes me sentimental for my old life, and while I’m glad I was happy then, I recognize that I need something different to make me happy now. I need me, not him. And so we said our goodbyes: no texts, no calls, no nothing until at least April I said. I figure by then I can reevaluate whether or not Fred and I can or should be friends.
He told me that if I asked him to date me that he’d have a hard time saying no. For a second that image flashed in my head: us together, walking around holding hands, watching Netflix on the couch, and fucking in his bed. And I knew it wasn’t right. Because I immediately thought of my girlfriend, and wanted her in my arms. See, it’s not that Fred is the bad guy and my girlfriend is the hero, it’s that even though my life isn’t the same as it used to be, I think it’s beginning to move in good directions. I will still have bad days, I will still feel lonely, but I am getting stronger.
I am who I have always been. I watch cheesy ’80s romcoms and I eat my dinner in bed. I change my fashion taste every few years. I steal good music from my friend Polly and I hold my friendships close to my heart. I talk with my mom, I eat copious amounts of breakfast food, and I sing along with my CDs in my car. These are the things that make me happy and who I am, and these are things I can only give myself.
I think I’ll be okay. (After all, if Julia Roberts can bounce back, why can’t I?)
More than ever, I feel control in my life. Happiness seems to surprise me in every new situation I’m faced with, and even when I am disappointed I am pushing through it easily. Why this year is so drastically different from the last I attribute to one thing: a positive attitude. Now I know that sounds like a bunch of inspirational bullcrap, but honestly it is working for me. I am cutting myself slack but am also keeping myself responsible for my mistakes. I am trying new things and keeping an open mind. I am waking up each morning with something to look forward to.
Recently I had my twentieth birthday and it was the best I’ve had since I was a kid. My boyfriend took off a whole weekend of work and came to visit me at college. We spent the whole time together, taking walks, getting dessert, snuggling, watching movies, having a romantic dinner and a romantic picnic, looking at the stars. He even had roses sent to me Friday at work! Every moment I just kept falling in love with him more and more… He shows me the kind of love that makes you believe in the world. The kind of love that if you know it exists, you also know miracles of some kind must happen, that people out there are capable of selflessness and healing and peace. It is the best gift I have ever gotten, and I pray to God or Budda or the universe (whoever may be listening) that it is one I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
With all of that being said, I have had my share of stress these past weeks. I had three exams in two days, with another the week before! I was so stressed, and missed my boyfriend terribly. I was constantly studying and hadn’t seen him in three weeks, so it seemed that all my energy was spent cramming my head and ignoring my heart. But I pushed through; I remembered that all I could do was to try my best, and that this moment would pass soon. And it did; I got three A’s and one B+! And do you know what I did then? I went for a run. I went running twice last week, and though it left me sore for days, and doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment at all, I felt great! I was so proud of myself! I haven’t ran this week, but I’m going to try to make it happen next. Baby steps…
I’ve also signed up for a few volunteer programs that I’m waiting to hear back from. I really want to put some of this positivity back into the world, not to mention it’ll look good on my resume! Me and my roommate are also volunteering for some events happening in my dorm, including trying to start a Long Distance Relationship Support Group! The first meeting was disappointing, because only one person showed up (a friend of ours), but I want to keep trying. There’s no use in trying if you’re going to give up.
As for things I’m looking forward to, this weekend me and some friends from high school are going on a camping trip! It will be the first time we have camped together, and it will almost be a mini-road trip because the camp grounds are two hours away from home. We plan to just kick back, relax, do a little partying, and catch up with each other’s lives…I’m so excited! It will be a nice weekend adventure we can look back on in years to come. 🙂
Being positive like this makes me so grateful for everyone and everything I have in my life. It’s not perfect or anything, but it doesn’t need to be. Happiness and perfection are far from the same thing–in fact, happiness is often making the best out of less-than-perfect situations. Only then do you see that most of the bad things in life are opportunities in disguise.
Today I felt great about my life. My boyfriend showed so much support, consideration, and compassion, proving yet again how lucky I am to have him. My family made me realize how hard I am willing to work to have an adult life surrounded in warmth and generosity. My long car ride back to school was filled with happy pop songs that inspired me to make a positive change in my life, and how attainable that goal really is. The people you love really do come through for you sometimes, and when they do you understand that with the right amount of love and support, you can grow into the person you’ve always wanted to be–that version of yourself you’ve dreamt about, who makes you ache from reaching out so hard.
I know that might not make much sense, but it sometimes is just as simple as facing yourself in the mirror and saying, “I AM going to do this. I have to do this.” So with that motto in mind, I went on a run today for the first time in a long time. It was very hard to push through, and before I even walked out the door, my heart was racing from nerves. But I did it! And I felt a power inside of me, pushing me that much forward toward the next block, the next stop sign…It made me feel less helpless, and more control of my life in a positive way. And I probably would have never gone on that run if I had decided to cry as I left my boyfriend in a different city, if I had decided to turn on the same music I always listen to. But as stupid as it sounds, the radio was playing the top 100 songs from the early 2000’s, and it made me feel silly and carefree. I suddenly remembered that I shouldn’t take my life so seriously, and that in order to move forward I need to pursue what makes me happy, nothing more or less.
Happiness is what I need. It’s all anyone wants for and craves. It’s what makes this world turn, and success is meaningless without it. And while we can’t always be happy, because life will always deal us a certain amount of blows, the ability to adapt is what keeps us strong. This strength makes us brave enough to reach for more, even at the risk of getting hurt. And so we reach and find happiness yet again, usually where we least expect it.
I think I’m brave enough now to reach for happiness again, even at the risk of getting hurt. I know I have love and support, even if it may be far, and as long as I remember that I will believe in my own strength. Now it is the time to create a new life here at college, the life I truly deserve.
Here I am, world, lying in my bed typing out this silly thing, while the man I love lies asleep next to me at thirteen minutes past midnight. It’s like I’m already some ambitious 40 year-old who writes on a blog at the wee hours in the morning in semi-secret when she isn’t working some mediocre job and raising a couple of mangy kids.
While it may sound like that, I assure you that I’m still in college, and because I’m ambitious I have no mangy kids and no desire to be the person I just described 20 years from now. If anything, I’m going to do this soul-searching bullshit now, so later in life I can write about less self-oriented things and start writing novels like I used to. But, here I am, listening to my boyfriend breathe deeply (slightly on the verge of snoring sometimes, but it’s more cute than bothersome) and trying to write something about my life that will be both meaningful (ha!) and something people actually read (double ha!).
On a side note, I really do miss writing stories like I used to. My last one was getting sort of good actually, and for the longest time I was so excited about it… But it’s not good enough. I always wanted to write a story that impressed people, but I think next time I should just try to write what I think people need to hear. After all, the books I love aren’t necessarily highly intellectual pieces of poetry, just stuff that I can relate to that sometimes makes me cry, fall in love with fictional people, and spend hours in curled up reading positions that make my entire body one giant foot cramp.
So in my last post I had that to-do list. I’m making more progress than I thought I would!! I’ve done 8 of the 14 things, and started to do at least 2 other things. One of the things I’ll have to wait until I get to school to do, and another isn’t possible for me to do either. I’ve also been doing other productive things that weren’t on the list like spending time with my mom, figuring out what I’m going to give my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day (because let’s face it, once that swings around I’ll be totally focused on participating in the Vagina Monologues), getting my car looked at before I make the two hour drive back to school, and spending time with my friends before they go back to school. It’s been a wee bit stressing, but actually more fulfilling than I had imagined. More than ever, I feel hopeful and positive about this new semester at school. There’s a lot of changes since last semester, such as:
- My dorm is now on the opposite part of campus that I never went to because it is completely out of the way…but it is also closer to downtown, so hopefully that will inspire me to go exploring!
- My best friend at college, Caitlin, is now no longer two floors above me and is in a different dorm on the opposite part of campus…looks like I’ll be getting a lot of exercise going to see her.
- My work hours have changed…get to meet more co-workers!
- My classes are all in the morning/early afternoon…at least I won’t be having my two o’clock nap in class anymore.
It’s a major disrupt to my comfort zone at school, these changes, but I know I’ll get into a new routine in no time. Plus, this semester I’m focusing more on branching out and trying new things, so what better way than with a brand new space and some brand new people! I’m really proud of myself for putting it in those positive terms, by the way. Whenever I first got my new dorm assignment, I believe my words to describe it was, “I’m not fucking living in that hell-hole!” So as you can see, I’ve adopted a more zen approach to this semester.
One thing I’m still not all chipper about is the knowledge that my wonderful boyfriend and I will be parted once more. Long-distance relationships suck you-know-what, and I highly recommend not falling in love with someone who doesn’t live at most an hour away. The worst part is, a part for the distance itself, is that every time I try to talk to him about it I end up crying. I hate crying!! I feel like he’s watched me cry like five times over the duration of Christmas break and the last thing I want to be is a giant sap-pot. If only he wasn’t so comfortable to talk to and cry on….he brings this on himself.
Anyway, all I want is to love him and be loved by him. Even though the distance is an issue, I’ve realized that I’m happier loving him than I am pretending I don’t (a prime example: our entire three week break-up). I know we won’t be able to have the same physical comfort and affection we have when we are together all the time, but if last semester taught me anything, it’s that I only want those things from him, even if they don’t come as easy. I want to be with him, to love him, maybe even for the rest of my life. But life has a funny way of taking everything familiar to you and turning it upside down.
I guess we’ll just see how it all turns out. Maybe we will get through this, maybe this semester will be the best of my life (or at least better than the last), maybe I’ll complete my entire to-do list and I won’t end up still pining after my teenage dreams while I’m forty. I don’t know if any of that will become true, but it’s what I need to believe.
(Click below to hear what I’ve had stick in my head while writing this!)
This whole being positive thing is harder than everyone says. A lot harder. Being positive means ignoring a lot of thoughts that my depression filters into my every brain wave, and sometimes it can be exhausting to cherry-pick the things you want from your own brain.
Being positive means ignoring my girlish instincts to be jealous of all of my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends. The thing is, it’s all a big mystery with him. He hardly says their names, but every once in a while we encounter remnants of their presence. Today it was a box in his truck, complete with two bras, a DVD, a pair of shoes, and a can of Spaghetti O’s as far as I could see. All items he has yet to return to Miss No-Name. Look, don’t get me wrong. Part of my brain is rational, reasonable and tells me that ex-girlfriends have the “ex” part for a reason. After all, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be with this guy now. It just sucks to have that other part of my brain in my head, noticing that he has a missed call for one of the guessed ex-girlfriends. Hip hip hurray for insecurity time! It’s bad enough I have to occasionally be reminded of the pictures he still has on Facebook of relationship’s past…but then again, I’m being harsh. (But then again, I don’t have any photos up of me and my old boyfriends.)
Being positive means ignoring the fact that my grandparents are old and dying and want to see me all the time. But because of said age and health, they can’t visit me, which means I must visit them. But I’m always so damn busy, I never seem to find the time. When I do, however, I am filled to the brim with so much sadness and love that I promise myself to visit more often. Then I return to my life, and am swallowed back into the teenage world of grad parties, going to the movies/out to eat/park/mall, having a crappy part-time job, my boyfriend, and hours upon hours of sleep. And they call, send their love, and I drowned in a vat of guilt. They couldn’t go to my graduation, and so my grandma left a card at my house that she’d hoped to give me in person. Where was I? Not there. That card will have illegible, cursive signatures that wish me luck and love, and have money that was set aside for me, and me alone. And I can’t remember the last time I saw them, just that my grandpa teared up as he asked me to not stay away for so long.
That just kills me inside.
Being positive means ignoring the tears that were falling down my face yesterday at dinner when I realized I couldn’t pay for my meal. I had plans to meet my friends at the movies with my boyfriend, whom I was so excited to see. Then bam! out of nowhere I remembered that I couldn’t even fill up my gas tank, let alone my stomach. I’ve been in the process of looking for a second summer job for maybe three months now, and I haven’t landed anything. So right now, all my expenses are being supported on a job I work one day a week at, for three hours or so. I felt like the biggest failure in the entire world, because not even McDonald’s will take me.
Being positive means ignoring all this shit on my shoulders, and I don’t know if I really have the capacity to cut myself that much slack. At least not now.
Whoever said that their struggles encouraged them to stay strong obviously didn’t have much of a guilty conscience.