“Being single…. There’s a certain dignity to it.” –Janet Livermore, Singles, 1992
If you’re like me, you grew up daydreaming about meeting your other half. You looked up phone numbers of the boys you liked in the phone book and prank-called them. You went to bed at night dreaming of being held, or kissed, while you listened to the radio play bad songs by Guns-N-Roses. You thought everything would be set right when you finally met that magical person who made your heart beat faster and helped you escape all of your pain and loneliness.
We’re very ready to jump in and commit to another person in this life, but we’re often less inclined to make that same commitment to ourselves. We grow up with the idea of “happily ever after,” which rarely exists, if at all. But we think that we can’t possibly go through this life alone. We think that must be the bleakest, the most awful. And so we settle for relationships that don’t quite work for us, people who make our hearts ache. We settle for boredom and pain and half-lights, instead of full ones. We settle for not getting our needs met, and therefore feeling, so often, empty.
The most important commitment you can make to yourself in your life is the commitment to you. The most important person you can fall in love with is you.
I’m not talking about narcissism, of course. (Any of us who has dealt with a narcissist knows they don’t really love themselves, anyway; they just have a range of well-built, fierce defenses.) I’m talking about sitting down and getting to know you. All the bits and pieces. Everything that makes you up. The same way you find someone else fascinating, you should spend some wondrous and curious energy focusing on discovering you.
Put on some make-up, or nice cologne. Take yourself out to dinner. Sit down at a table near the window.
Who is this person called you?
Isn’t she (or he) beautiful and amazing? These experiences! These accomplishments! These longings!
What does she want?
What gets her excited? What moves her to tears? What is her history? Does it hold her back? What hurt her in life? What set her free?
What does she dream?
There are layers and layers to such a beautiful creature. There are emotions that rise up at inopportune moments. There are people who bring out the best in her, and others who bring out the worst. There are cells that are changing inside her, regenerating, so that she is not quite herself, anymore, within a few days. Often, perhaps, she changes her mind, even though she doesn’t let anyone know. And then, seemingly overnight, she becomes more herself than she’s ever been.
The thing I’ve learned about heartbreak—my own and others’—is that you just can’t count on another person to always be around. You may think you can, and sometimes, this holds true, even when it’s long been time for a person to go. But people do change. People pass away. People fall in love with someone else. Maybe that person is you. This is all true and real, no matter how hard it is to take. This is all part of life, even though it can make us feel like we’re falling apart.
What you’ll always have, no matter what, is you. Every single day, you get to be with you. You will be there for every transition, every turn of events, every high and every low. You may as well settle in and accept that chick, warts and all.
So make friends with yourself. Become lovers. Ensure you get the treatment and respect and dignity you’d give to your greatest ally, because you are your greatest ally. It’s unfortunate if you haven’t been taught this, or you don’t treat yourself this way. But you can start now. You can unlearn the old, toxic stuff and change your approach to being with yourself today.
You are not perfect. But you are made whole, even when you’re convinced you’re broken. You are made loving, and worthy of love. It’s great if you can give that love to other people, but first you ought to spend some good, fierce energy giving it to yourself. Pure and unadulterated love, all for you. Treat yourself, and honor yourself, the way you’d treat and honor your child, or your best friend. Your whole world can grow from that rich place.
And even if you don’t meet someone romantically who sees you for all of who you are, or is able to love you for the wholeness and vastness you carry inside you, that’s okay. (You will, but in times when you don’t, it’s okay.) Because you’ll have you. You’ll have every piece of you. Your whole life was not created so you could just be handed over, used for someone else’s holes and desperation. Your life was created for you, and it was meant for you to live it, for you to experience.
So live. Love. Discover and dance. Be purely you.
You are so, so beautiful.