It’s almost Valentine’s day and this year will be the first year I am ‘fully single’. What do I mean when I say fully single, I hear you ask? Well, since the birth of my son in March 2017 his father and I have had our fair share of struggles. We tried, we really did but for our own reasons and for the sake of our sanity we decided to officially end something that has been dead in the water for a long, long time. The co-parents out there will understand this situation. More often than not you’ll find yourself staying together for the sake of routine, for the sake of the children and you’ll stay in a situation that doesn’t serve you or make you happy for a supposedly easy life. That’s what we did for a while, and whilst we weren’t together, we were still heavily involved in each other’s lives and there was still an element of control that we held over one another.
We finally admitted defeat recently and accepted that it’s time to move on. We still co-parent, were still close and that’s fine because we have to be for the sake of our son. It’s that old heavily cliched adage of, we loved each other but we weren’t in love with each other. But it’s so true. You can really care about someone but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are meant to be. I care about a lot of people, my friends, my family, even strangers. It really got me questioning, what is love? Have I actually ever been in love? Or have I just been in situations that I put up with because they were convenient, or deemed the right thing to do?
Learning to love myself
You see I’ve been in three long term relationships since the age of 15. The breaks in between them saw very little interaction with other people, so my experience of dating you could say is somewhat warped. I literally have no clue how to successfully date in the digital age. I downloaded Tinder recently and within a few hours the app was removed from my phone. There were a few really decent guys on there, but they were few and far between. It’s honestly scary and I really feel for anyone trying to navigate their way through the cess pit of unsolicited pictures of penises and backhanded compliments that were expected to be flattered by.
Why did I do it? Truthfully, I’m lonely. I’m insecure. I’ll admit it, I miss intimacy. I’m not used to being alone and I haven’t been alone for this long. I yearn for pointless interaction and validation as much as the next person, but another home truth is that I’m not in the right place to do that, and as time goes on, I sometimes doubt that I ever will be. All my relationships have been destructive, and I’ve had to look inwardly recently and ask myself, is it just them or is this something to do with me? Whilst I didn’t deserve the hurt and pain of my last relationship, looking back at the three relationships I’ve had, on reflection, I don’t think I was ever ready to love.
Pushing love away
Because before now, before this pivotal moment of self-acceptance in my life, I never felt like I deserved love. Before my first long term relationship, I didn’t care who I gave myself to. I was promiscuous, I didn’t respect myself or my body, I put myself in dangerous situations, I truly felt like that was all I was worthy of. To the point where I can pin point multiple times I was treated inappropriately and I just shrugged it off as normal. The thought of some of those things now make me shudder. I was a lost little girl looking for love and validation in all the wrong places, and I don’t think that little girl ever really grew up.
Now at the age of 28 and as a mother of 3 little boys, that little girl is a now a woman. A woman who knows she’s worth something. A woman who despite having a mental illness knows that decent men exist, and who knows that somewhere, there is someone out there who would be willing to love me unconditionally for all of my many flaws. I’ve spent so many years self-stigmatising, and apologising for myself, and I refuse to do that anymore. Yet at the same time, until I deal with the trauma in my life, and the issues I have then I can’t commit to anyone, because that isn’t fair either. The worst part of all this? I think I’ve finally found someone who gets that but there’s a world of problems between us keeping us apart. Aside from all of that, I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’m scared of ever loving someone again, especially now I have trust issues. I naively never had that before. It’s not just having the trust of the person either, it’s trusting myself. Trusting that I can love someone again and not fuck it up. Trusting that I won’t sabotage a good thing. Trusting myself not to keep pushing the good people away. Because damn, I always do.
Love, but for the right reasons
There used to be a time where I would write out guest lists and table arrangements for my future wedding, days I would spend dreaming of my perfect wedding – right down to the music I would walk down the aisle to. There was a time when that was all I ever truly wanted. I would turn green with envy at every engagement announcement, and long for it to be me. I don’t feel that way anymore. Love and life have a way of changing you and that’s okay. I’m lucky to have a lot of love in my life, from my boys, my family, and my friends. Still, you can be surrounded by love and still feel lonely and that’s my problem. I need to be lonely. In the words of Alessia Cara, I need to trust my lonely, because in the past loneliness has pushed me into places where my love wasn’t appreciated, and I can’t do that again. There’s so much pressure to hit these supposed life targets, and while I love a good wedding and I believe in true love – there’s a majority of people these days that get married because it’s seen as the next step and they end up in unhappy marriages braving face for the rest of the world whilst being deeply unhappy and I don’t want that for me.
What does the future hold?
Who knows what the future will hold? Will I ever fall in love again? To be honest I highly doubt it. When the time is right, I hope that I will be in the right place to give someone all of the weird and wonderful parts of me that I’ve struggled to love. The parts of me I’ve spent years hiding and apologising for. But for now, I am trusting my lonely, and I know that when I do find the courage to fall in love again, I will deserve it.