Thoughts on Being Single: Be Gentle with Your Single Friends and Family

I am a soon-to-be 38 year old woman.  I’m not married.  I don’t have children.beingsinglequotes

Newsflash: I want to be married and I still hope for children.   I shouldn’t necessarily have to explain all of this, but in today’s times I find myself in what I call “In defense of being alone.”

I am certain many of my married friends, the friends of friends and family members either think I LOVE being single and ergo don’t want to be married with all of the “trappings” or that  something is horribly wrong with me which is why no one has married me.

Seriously.

I don’t deny there are some things wrong with me – stop laughing – lol.   I tend to be moody although I manage better these days.  I’m somewhat set in my ways – but amenable most days.  I like things done a certain way.  I’m not fond of people who snore (although I do) and I like being able to have to have time alone.  I write.  Writers need time alone and time to create.  Time to stare out the window.  Of course this is the short list of what’s wrong with me.  There is the more exhaustive list I’m sure my exes would be all-too-happy to post and discuss.

I’m also weird sometimes.    Very sensitive, highly intuitive, a lover of ‘me’ time and not fond of loud background noise if I cannot control it.  I’m not a neat freak, but my kitchen and bathrooms all have to be really clean (thankfully you can’t see what they look like right now or you’d call me a damn liar).  I will turn around and go back home if I think I’ve left the stove or oven on.  I spend money on cheap wine and good food. There are a whole host of really weird things I love I won’t even go into today.

Some days I don’t want to be married because I understand the work it takes to make things work.  Being single has it’s benefits in I don’t have to be accountable to someone for where I am and what’s going on.  On the contrary, I am the single friend who wants her married and boo’d up friends’ relationships to survive.  I have sat for countless hours (maybe into the 10,000 hour level) of talking with people and counseling on relationships.  My advice is sound, it works and most days I’m on the money and right.  I tell them it’s difficult out here in singledom and unless there’s a gee-golly good reason of misery, abuse and generally irreconcilable differences then my motto is stay and work it out….

Please note, I am not making a case for marriage or singleness.  For having children versus choosing to remain without children.  Depending who I talk to, there are as many drawback as there are benefits to either.  Each of us has to decide what’s really right for our own life.

However, the questions and the looks from friends and family sometimes, when marriage and children come up is difficult and awkward – at best.  I’m also being extremely nice here.   I’ve been cornered, questioned, speculated at and preached to.  Funny thing is it hasn’t come directly from my Mother or Father – thank God.  Although I’m pretty sure they worry about me, especially my Dad (Hi Dad!), there’s been a whole host of people who feel the need to have input on this.   While I’m thankful for the concern, it hasn’t helped me not one damn bit.

I’m an only child.  I’m fiercely independent.  It’s not because I want to be.  It’s because I’ve had to be.  I would love more than anything to hand over these reigns of household management to a trusted man who would be my partner/spouse/lifemate or [insert your word of boo’d up choice].  I am fine with allowing him the ability to make decisions for us and for me to add my input.  I’d like to have a #Him to bounce ideas off of.  Someone who I could depend on when I was tired or call in case of an emergency.  I have surely built a wonderful network of friends over the years who are there.  But the intimacy of this sort of partnership is what I crave.   I don’t like having to show up for events, wedding, vacations, cook outs and house parties alone all of the time.

In the general scheme of things, I want to be with someone who is available to me when I need him, can support me when I push him away, will take over when I keep my mouth shut and generally help me.

No, I’m not broken.  There is nothing wrong with me (mostly).  I’m just single.

And that can be for any host of reasons.  Choice.  Timing.  Poor choice of who I chose to date over the years.  Spending too much time in dead-end relationships.   Trying to revive already dead situations.   I’m not new to this, not new to dating and not new to consideration of things.

I can talk about all of the bad relationship choices I’ve made over the years.  I will take ownership of them.  I made the decision to date these men.  Maybe the time spent has resulted in me being on the second half of life yearning for a family and a spouse.  But it doesn’t mean anything is actually wrong with me.    This time last year I was in the midst of a relationship that makes me thankful to come home to an empty house.  If you’ve ever had one of these kinds of a relationship, then there’s an understanding of what I feel.

The point here is many of us who are single (men and women) don’t often want to be that way.  Despite whatever our dating and prior marital history may have been, I believe many of us have settled into being alone because we don’t want to settle into the wrong relationship.   We’d rather be alone than be miserable with someone just for the sake of saying ‘Yeah, I got a (wo)man.’  Maybe our hearts are too big (in my case) and we can’t bear the idea of having to endure another heartache.  Maybe I don’t want to have to discuss another failed relationship or being publicly embarrassed by the actions of my significant other.  Maybe, just maybe, I want a place where I can go and still find love, comfort and peace.  And maybe there’s no one that’s provided that for me in years on a consistent and committed basis – despite the fact I’ve dated.

I won’t even begin to talk about how many dates I’ve been on and the mayhem and foolishness that’s ensued.  [Note to self: book material].   There are the stories those who read my blog know about.  There are stories I’ve only told my friends and there are stories  I’ve never told anyone and may never share.   There are the stories behind the stories.

The issue is many people feel as if it’s because I wanted it this way.  That’s far from the truth.  I’ve found myself on more than one occasion having to listen to the concerns of others.  I’m thankful for the concern but it seems all of the owness gets placed on me and why I’m not married.  I mean, I could have been – several times over and realized the person wasn’t right for me.  There was once or twice I met someone and I thought they were right – they didn’t think I was right.  Is anyone seeing a pattern here?

But here’s the thing – what if I didn’t want to be married or committed?  Would that make me a bad person?  No, not at all.  For those that fit under that umbrella I support them as well.  The fact remains I DO want to be married or at least in a successful long-term relationship.

I wrote this a while back and have been anxious to post it.  I just ask if you’re in a committed relationship and have a friend or a family member who is single and childless, be nice to them about their situation.  Please stop assuming things.  If you want to know and are close enough with them, then ask – the right way.  The following WRONG statements have been said to me in some form or fashion:

“oh, you like being single.”

“You love your freedom huh?”

“You like doing things alone all the time?”

“I know you don’t want to be tied down or else you’d be married by now.”

“Aren’t you dating?  Why not?”

“Why don’t you have any children yet? Have you considered finding a donor?”

“You know you can just have kids and don’t need to be married/in a relationship right?”

DONT’ say anything that even remotely looks like any of the statements above.  I have plenty of other examples.  I managed to wiggle out of each of these with grace.  I didn’t want to destroy the fabric of the relationship or turn out the family event.  Just be mindful of what you say.  No trapping them at family functions and private events where their singleness or lack of suitable suitors and dates becomes the main topic.  I’ve managed to handle it with grace but the snide remarks need to see their way out of these discussions.

Have you ever thought the person could be going through something they need to handle?  A financial situation?  A health complication?  Maybe they aren’t able to have children or are now having to debate if it’s the right thing to do?

I’m just saying there are countless reasons people remain single and childless.  Please don’t make assumptions.  Even when you love us.  It’s not fair.   Many people only tell you what they are comfortable telling you.  They may not share everything that happens in their life that’s led them to be where they are at the moment you’re speaking to them.

If you have single family members or friends and you’re married, please be nice to them.  Don’t assume they are fully content.  Don’t assume they are miserable either.  If you want to know how they are, then ask.  If you want to know if they’re dating, ask.   If there are more details, then if you know them well enough, find a considerate way to approach the topic.

I’ve come to a point of acceptance that when it happens it happens.   It can’t be forced.  It can’t be planned.   I need others to get on this page too.

Just be gentle with us.  When the time is right, it’s right.
Have you ever been cornered by your family or extended family about your relationship status?  How did you handle it?

Who Will Marry a Woman Like Me? The Single’s Challenge to Get Whole

Honestly, I have been asking myself this question for a while now.

I’ve reached the adult threshold where everyone is getting married, having children.  I mean EVERYONE.  Not just a few people, but most of the people around me and around everyone else for that matter.  Maybe it’s the recession?  Maybe it’s true love.  Fact is they are all boo’d up.  It’s a tad unnerving at times.

I’m a lover of love.  I enjoy seeing people happy and together.  I support each and every one of my friends in their unions. I laugh and cry with them.  I tell them to hold it together when it’s going poorly.  I want them to be together.

The fact remains I am still single and some days you feel some kind of way about it.

No marriage prospects in sight.  It had been this way.  You meet a guy, you think he’s the one, and then for whatever reason or number of reasons, he turns out NOT the one.  In fact, you should have never even been dealing with this joker in the first damn place.  Right?

Right.

I am on a no dating challenge currently.  It was just time.

I realized all the time that’s passed and found myself a little nervous.  Clocks are ticking.  I can hear the bells ringing – and not wedding bells.  I mean the kitchen timer, times up kinda bell.  Or rather a buzzer.   Waking up another morning asking, “What’s wrong with me?”

For the men reading this – yes, women think this and well, we’ll never admit it to you in your face if you confront us.  However, there a few who could care less.  This really isn’t about them (no h8).  It’s for the women, who like myself are looking for the life they thought they’d have at this point and are grappling with the life we currently have.   So it’s what is versus what I want (or expect).

Or rather, I’ve asked myself what’s wrong with me?  I’ve had this talk many times with myself and wondered what I am doing wrong.  Fact is, there were a number of things I was doing wrong.  Those are for another post.

The most important thing I had to realize is that I had to BE the prototype I was looking for.  That’s the number one thing I was doing wrong.  I wasn’t living up to the best version of myself.  The best woman.  The best Rae.

What does this mean?  It means you better be willing to give all of the things you’re asking for from your mate.  It means being long-suffering.  It means knowing what the I Corinthians verse 14: 4-7 really means & to be willing to honor it and get yourself to living as close to all of it as you can.  Practice – and not on dates!!  But on your loved ones.  For those who don’t know what it says:

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

It means I better get to work.  I mean, there is some serious overhaul to be done.  And here I thought I was in good shape.  But then over the last year or so, and after my Lemony Snicket aka the series of unfortunate (dating) events, it brought me to a point where I realized there was a lot of work to be done – on myself.  While I could blame others, at the end of the day, the position I’m in is my responsibility.

I have some issues and they better well be resolved, or well on their way to being worked on before I even think about taking on someone else’s issues.  You realize of course when you get married, you’re taking on all of the other persons issues.  If you think you’re ready for a husband, the better question is to ask if you’re ready to be a wife.  Am I ready to be a wife?  Lord have mercy.

The gut feeling I listened to managed to serve me well.  I knew better all this time than to get married too early.  The truth is, years ago, up until very recently I probably would have made a terrible wife.  So, those brothers are probably as thankful they didn’t marry me as I am that I didn’t marry them.  Do we as women ever think about that? SMH….

Then my mind starts to wander.   I get to thinking: I’m cute; I have many “intangible” talents;  I’m stylish; I have good taste; I’ve been sensible (sometimes – let’s say enough to count me in as not crazy).  Oooooh!  Eccentric.  Okay, maybe I’m a little crazy.  I know right from wrong.  I can recite the days of the week, my address, I usually know what day it is (although I had an episode with that this past weekend – EPIC fail).  I can cook.  I can make a mean Sunday or whatever other day dinner you need.  I’m eclectic.  I’m giving to a fault.  I can empathize with you & share in your pain.  I can love hard.  I tend to be hilarious without trying.  I’m agreeable – on most days.  I’m kinda surly at times though – but some men like that so it’s really an asset.  By the way, I also have assets. (wink)

And so does every other woman.

So why am I NOT married?  Damn.

Mainly because none of the above really matters.

It does matter, then again, it doesn’t.  How beautiful I am, how well I can cook, how well I can maintain things and hold them together – that doesn’t make a relationship stick.  Men have left for more or for less.

What matters is my character.

Ouch.

Yes. Character.

When I started to dissect all of the things I need to resolve, I realized I have my work cut out for me:

  • Deal with past  pains and hurts of exes.  No bitterness please!  No cold witchery is allowed.  No holding a man hostage for the faults of others before him.
  • Master being a Proverbs 31 woman and a woman who embodies the “Love is patient, love is kind…”
  • Pay off some, if not all of this damned debt.
  • Learn to honor my commitments.
  • Learn to be on time.
  • Learn to set boundaries.
  • Discern who I should let go and who I should let stay.
  • Learn what to reveal and what not to.
  • Learn a measure of self-control.
  • Work on all of those things on my to do list : writing, publishing, house, travel, countless other things….
  • Cultivate myself into the best version of myself as I can while I’m single.
  • Maybe learn how to dance burlesque.  Just saying.  It’s helpful.  LOL….

And when you start going through that list, that’s when you get to the answers, you make the progress, the husband shows up.  Here’s the truth, we can look on to others lives as much as we want, but if we’re not making any progress in our own while watching others, we’re failing ourselves and setting ourselves up for future failure.

Fact : you’ll never have as much time as a married person to work on yourself as you do when you’re single.

Same message : I need to BE the prototype I am seeking.

What am I doing to better myself?  Am I taking classes?  Working smarter to pay off this debt?  Trying to fulfill my dreams?  Out here blogging and working on this book like I keep TALKING about?  Taking care of the obligations I am responsible for?  How’s my relationship with God?  Am I actively seeking my purpose?

Fact is, I wasn’t ready.  And if the right man had shown up these years, he wouldn’t have been looking for a girl like me.  I don’t know if I could have even recognized him.

I think when I realized this, I had to lay down in the bed for a day – okay, it was two.  Really.   I got out of bed to shower, make a snack and get a glass of wine.  I stayed in bed to drink, eat and watch those damned four-hour Lifetime love movies and Weddings on E! and all of the other girly movies.

It was deep.  I cried – a lot.  (Girl models do this…)

I didn’t like the woman I saw when I got raw and real with it.  I mean, I loved her, but there were some things she was going to have to get past before she could even consider being someone’s wife or think about even a relationship.

All of this isn’t even really about being a wife, or getting married, or having a committed relationship, or getting the man/woman we want.  It really boils down to being the best person you can be.  Being able to be your authentic self and live your life to its fullest.  Being able to get past your own bullshit, and then really get on with your own life’s business.  Not being stuck in a rut.  Not having to relive every day as if it’s the same day of mediocrity.

This whole realization was difficult.  As mentioned in previous posts, this year has visited me with some seriously difficult days.  They haven’t been as merciful as I had hoped, but then again, maybe they were all too necessary to bring me to a point where I was ready to “get it.”

So who do I see when I’m getting myself together in the morning?  Do I like her?  Do I love her?  Can I depend on her?  Can I call on her when I need her?  Do I find her worthy of a good life?  Is she valuable?

The answer to all of these questions today is a YES.

However, she still falls short.  To put it mildly, I have fallen consistently short of my expectations for myself over the years.  And well, there’s still hope at the beginning and the end of the day.  I still have it.

The main thing is progress is being made.  I’m becoming a better woman each day.

Progress.

Progress.

Pro-gress.

This issue is so close to my heart because it’s so important for us to know our worth, for us to propel ourselves to all God would have us to be.  It looks different for everyone.  What yours looks like is very likely different from mine.  It doesn’t make either any less important or more important for that matter.  It doesn’t have anything to do with who you marry or being married.  It’s dealing with you.  Your character, your attitude, your spirit.

I promise, if you’re not already whole when you end up in a relationship, the holes are going to surely cause a wind of serious change in your relationship.  You’ll lose the very thing, the very person which and who was most precious to you.

I love you enough to tell you to get whole: to work on yourself in the process of waiting.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

So don’t get the title of the post twisted.  I believe in love.  I believe there is a man out there for me.  I believe I am worthy of this man.  There is a man out there who is designed for me, fashioned for me – or shall I say, who I’m fashioned from.  He will be able to handle all of me.  All the multitudes that I contain.  He will be ready for me and I’ll be ready for him.

He will love a woman like me.  He will have been searching for a woman like me.

The point is, I need to be ready to receive him.  I need to be the best person so that when he meets me, I’ve developed or am at least in route to developing into that woman.  It’s also crucial because without this development, I just may never be able to see him and appreciate him.  I may never recognize him.

I am taking the time to work on all of those issues I see within myself that need to be squashed.  I’m meeting my demons face to face. I’m inviting God to meet me where I am and work through me, on me, with me.  I’m working to attract that which I want. To BE attractive to that which I want.   I’m working on being the best version of Rae that’s humanly possible.

I just want to offer hope for you.  I have this little blue flame of hope knowing all things work for the good in our lives.  The Word says it.  Please know if you’ve been putting it off, begin the process and all of the doors begin to open for you.  Revive your life and yourself.

What say you?  Are you working on being the prototype?  Are you working towards being as whole as possible?

I am.  I’m sure you’ll hold me accountable to it.  Please do.

Love,

Rae

Giving Up to Get Up Part II aka What’s Out the Window for 2011…Dating

“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And babe, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”  ~ Marilyn Monroe

I wrote about giving things up a couple of weeks…ergo…months, here.  Leave it to me to be right back here to have to talk about just that.  Kinda funny how that works out right?

Le sorry for the length of time. It’s been a rough time. I don’t post in the midst of crises or very difficult periods or else I may find myself amongst those who are apologizing and trying to explain themselves on CNN days later. (Shout out to CNN!!!!)

Actually, explaining myself on CNN probably wouldn’t be bad, and I subscribe to the theory that I would rather ask forgiveness than permission.  However, being a publicity nightmare isn’t on my list of things to do.  Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind being a guest on CNN – hey Anderson and Piers! I’m not trying to end up on there for mayhem and foolishness.  But I can show up on there all day and dish! I mean, Anderson loves Nene.  I’m not boss like Nene (yet) but I will take my yellow arse right on up and through there and dish nonetheless.  My Mom would be proud.  She’d say that she always knew I had IT in me (not sure exactly what she’d also add) and she thought she had raised me right and wasn’t sure where she had went wrong.

I digress.  I always digress.  What else is new?

I’m here to discuss the shit things that we often have to give up (or not) to move ahead (or not).

Here’s the skinny (or the fatty depending on your preference) :

I am giving up dating for six months.

You read it right.

Yes…six months.

Clutch the pearls! Stop the presses!  Heavens to Mergatroid!  Oh hell naw! (hears cars screeching and record players scratching stop everywhere).  And yes, I am perfectly in my right mind.  As right for me as I’m going to be anyway.

Correct – yes, me, Rae, the one who absolutely without any shadow of a doubt would give up the Park Place real estate on her ring finger for The One.

Not dating.

Not going out with anyone.

Not accepting offers.

I am having a seat.

Not even a date with my dream guy ….

I am on lay-a-way for six months.

Yup.  This is an official sabbatical.

I’m not bitter.  Maybe a little bruised up but that tends to make the fruit sweeter right?  I’m still sweet.  I’m still excited about the possibility of love.  I still love seeing two people in love.  I support all of the people who are in love, loving, happy and all boo’d up, all of my newlyweds, those newly engaged.  I’m a lover of love.  Love didn’t put me in this place where I need a break.  Making bad choices, allowing the wrong people into my “Circle of Trust” – that’s what put me here.

I always remember:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.I Corinthians 13: 4-8

I’ve always appreciated that verse.  It tells the truth right?  I just need to make sure I’m in a place where I can receive what’s in this verse as well as provide what’s in this verse.  I find I’m not there anymore.

I am handing off the torch on this relay.

After what I like to refer to as a Lemony Snicket aka “a series of unfortunate events” in my life over the last two years, I absolutely decided and needed take a break.  I had been tossing the idea around in my head when I was reading The District Diva’s website and a challenge for a Six-Month-No-Dating Pledge.  It spoke to me.  Directly.  The sort of direct where you know the message is meant for you.

As my friends will remind me, I have mentioned doing this before.  But this year’s events alone have been enough for me to challenge myself and honor this commitment.  It may not be easy.  When is something worthwhile easy?

Sacrifice + discipline + hard work + prayer + miracles = the recipe for success.

I’m a self-proclaimed nerd and bibliophile so of course I ended up reading the book, Knight in Shining Armor by PB Wilson and the deal was sealed for me.  You can laugh at that title if you want to, but the book means business.  I mean, the sister talks about even putting a wedding on hold if you’re engaged in this book to make sure you’re in the right space and have made the right decision.  So, you know she’s speaking tough love in this book.  There were many “ouches” and “damns” while reading the book. Things I wish I’d have grasped years ago.  All of the things she speaks about in the book – well, I learned them and have the lessons to be able to teach an entire course.  I have an honorary PhD on the course.

I will also confess, I remember seeing the book some years ago, thinking it was going to be really Jesus-y – I know that’s not a word, just saying.  Now, I am a follower of Jesus and I adore Him.  I do.  Sometimes though, when you’re trying to get a breakthrough you need to know HOW and WHY these spiritual things apply things when all you think these are just rules to hold you back.  You’re not trying to hear all of these don’ts without any principal behind them.  Years ago, I was afraid the book would be “you can’t do this, you can’t do that.”  In some ways – it is.  I just wasn’t ready to give in – being the hard-headed and stubborn cuss that I am.  But honestly, from a Christian perspective, the book is breaking things down in a way I had never paid attention to before.  Lights were coming on and alarms were sounding.  Of course this means war.

When I thought about it, being alone for six months sounded amazing!  I never in a million years thought I’d feel this way, but well, the idea has grown on me.  It was time.  Given the serious nature of what it means to be married and to make a decision to spend your life with someone – what’s the rush?  It should be done in such a way where you know to the best of your ability what and who you’re getting yourself into.  You need to know yourself, what the commitment really means and the other person as much as possible.

I think I can take six months to do think things over.

The fact of the matter is when you’re finally ready to move to another level there are things you’re going to have to do, not do, give up, speak up about and get to business on.  There’s no in-between. Like Yoda said, “Try not. Do or do not.  There is no try.”

I am stepping down and officially having a seat.  Getting closer to God and having a series of conversations with Him.  Getting closer with myself.   Getting a fresh perspective.  Healing.  This is a win-win situation for everyone involved!  God gets the time He wants.  I get the time, the space and the respite I desperately need.

There comes a point when you have to realize you’re missing the mark.  Not hitting the target.  Sometimes I think God sets it up so we get to come right home to Him.  So that’s one thing I realized I needed to give up.  Get to the things I’m supposed to be focused on and should have been doing in the first place.

June Carter Cash had this to say about the relationship between her and Johnny Cash:     I chose to be Mrs. Johnny Cash in my life. I decided I’d allow him to be Moses and I’d be Moses’ brother Aaron, picking his arms up and padding along behind him.

Shouldn’t it be this way?

(has a seat)

I’m going to write about my six-month hiatus over the next few months.  I’m a few weeks in.  Already, there have been some serious changes and challenges.

I’m not sure where all of this will lead and what will happen,  but I will offer this quote by Joseph Campbell that gave me comfort I was on the right path:

If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.

Which must mean I’m on the right track.

Are you ready to move to the next level?  Is there anything you need to give up or take a break from?

*Hint: from experience, it’s normally the very thing you don’t want to give up

I’m excited about hearing your comments and thoughts!

Love you!

Rae