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?

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Lessons in Life: The Importance of Brussel Sprouts in 2012

*raenote – this post is long as hell – get a drink, some coffee, tea and get ready.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Y’all have seen me use this quote many times.  I use it because it’s true.  The year of 2012, of all years was a year in life lessons. New lessons learned and many old ones that wanted to come and see me again.  It was a year of answers.  I had amalgamated answers – compounded lessons.  Of course a few additional questions have come up – those will be answered in other years I’m sure.   I’m not a woman who believes in New Year’s Resolutions – not of the formal kind.  I normally consider my reset year on my birthday (May 29 if you plan to send gifts).

Let me sum up 2012: love, conquering, getting cut, getting chose, getting cut again, the rising of a writer and a blog, finding my voice, discovering the limits of my love, discovering things I didn’t know about myself, healing, brussel sprouts and expansion

At any rate, without further adieu – let’s go over what I learned in 2012:

I am a writer.  I am a fabulous writer.  I used to question this years ago.  Mostly because well, I hadn’t gotten any feedback on my writing.  But I hadn’t shown anyone any of it!!  Well, my Dad and Gram believed I could write, but don’t they always support you?  I was so afraid to show anyone what I was writing – I wasn’t ready for the rejection.  But I think enough dating disasters can help a woman (or a man for that matter) realize getting turned down, or someone saying they don’t like something you’re working on – isn’t the end of the world.  Normally, they’re mad that you’re doing something you want to do and they aren’t, haven’t, can’t or won’t.  Special note: If the criticism isn’t constructive (read constructure in my Madea voice) then just let that shit slide.  Seriously.

People are going to do whatever the fuck they want to do and it has absolutely nothing to do with you, me or anyone else.  I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true.  I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times if you’ve heard it once.  There is a hamster in their head telling them to do certain things – things that don’t have any consideration for you or your well-being.  It’s all about them.  So – just remember that.  But here’s the kicker if you’re married, attached or boo’d up to to someone exhibiting this behavior there will come a point when your own desire for life (and not just existence but a manner of flourishing and thriving) will have to take over and kick in. Don’t be upset – well, you can be upset, just try not to be too out of pocket about it for years and shit.  It won’t help you.

I used to think it isn’t personal but it is.  My Dad and I were having a conversation.  I was telling him about a situation I had to deal with and here’s how our conversation went:

Me: “I don’t take it personally Dad. I don’t think they meant it like that.”

Dad:  “It’s always personal. That’s the shit people feed you. But it’s always personal when it’s that close.”

So with that conversation, I had to really think about it for a minute – actually it sent me thinking for a few days.  And guess what, as usual, my Father is correct. (He has like a 95% success rate on advice).  As much as I want to believe the Four Agreements – great book by the way, and as much as I think people are looking out for themselves, there’s only so much that you can let slide and not take personally.  That’s not to say I have to walk around pissed off all the time or holding a grudge – I don’t.  What I do do is take note of it and then rearrange someone’s place in (or out of) my life. It gets simpler as the years go on, listen and watch people.  Some things are personal and at the same damn time, some of it isn’t – it just may still personally affect you.

There must be a plan in place at all times. Albeit a fluid plan with room to contract and expand – but there has to be a plan! (I didn’t try to make it rhyme but as I typed this I was reading in my Dr. Seuss voice).  So look – if you don’t have a plan for life, life will make a plan for you. Plan things out and make sure you’re actually doing things to get where you need to be.  In some respects, the blog is both and accidental and deliberate success.  I hoped it would do well – it has.  But I don’t know if I was planning and executing things as well I can. In fact I know I wasn’t. But there was still a plan.  I recommend also having a series of back up plans.  So if a blog fails, or you don’t get accepted to something you apply for? Well – start another blog, review and the re-apply.

There is no way around your fears. You just have to go through them.  In various times throughout 2012 I saw a few things that made me feel vulnerable (betrayal, illness of a loved one, financial issues, disagreements).  Honestly – some of it scared the shit out of me. I wanted to stay home, hide and pull the covers over my head many days (it does keep the monsters out).  It’s the remedy that sometimes works.  But that’s only good for about three or four days until you have to face things.  And I had to face things.  There wasn’t anyone else to handle it.  No one else that COULD handle it and was willing to jump in.  That’s when courage, faith and the reluctant willingness to get through something has to and MUST kick in.  All I can say is that it will.  Keep waking up and facing the day.  As Joyce Meyer puts it, “Do it afraid.”

Some gifts don’t come wrapped the way you expect.  Sometimes, the most precious gift can be wrapped in a situation or a circumstance you’re not exactly ready to handle.  Or at least you think you’re not ready to handle it.  You are.  Trust me.  On the flip side of things, it’s very possible someone who is going to be the most important person you’ll ever meet – maybe they don’t look the way you expected them to, they’re not in the position you imagined, they are younger or older – whatever.  In other words, they’re not your ideal “whatever it is you imagined.”  I know we put all of these parameters and things on people and say how we want things to look exactly a certain way but let me tell you how often I’ve been surprised at who has blessed me, helped me and taken care of me.  It’s not to say there aren’t wolves in sheep’s clothing – there are – but damn.  Additionally, some of the best gifts come wrapped in the most terrible of life’s lessons. Hold on to that last line.

Learn how to open your mouth and ask for help, ask people for what you want, say how you feel.   You don’t get paid for being silent.  Or at least I don’t.  Sure – people can walk off and run away when you tell them how you feel and what you want.  Trust that you’d rather have it that way than never saying anything.  On the flip side of that, so many of us suffer in silence and don’t ask for what we need (within reason). Especially in our closest relationships.  Let me tell you a story –  a couple of years ago, a man I loved dearly decided to just pull the great disappearing act that negroes pull when you ask questions about the direction of the relationship kind of magic trick.  I opened my mouth.  I wasn’t nagging, I wasn’t upset – but right after I asked? He was gone.  I can only convey maybe in voice or in real time how devastated I was.  I didn’t see it coming.  But guess what – I haven’t stopped asking for what I need either. This year was no different.  I had to express some things I didn’t want to, but when it came time – I was thankful I did.  Say this and clap your hands after every word: Open.Your.Mouth.

Take a damn chance. A calculated one. But just take that shit.  Seriously loves.  It’s really that serious.  It’s important that when you see new opportunities, that you take them.  Some opportunities only arrive every now and again.  Some only once.  If you see Falcor land outside your window and you didn’t pop a Molly, you may want to actually get on him and ride.  Take an adventure.   Do something different.  NO, I’m not completely off my rocker.  It’s just I know in order to make any sort of progress we all have to take chances.

Some people are seasonal, situational, semi-permanent and if you’re lucky permanent (with the right ones).  And it’s ok.  Every few years I lose a few people.  Maybe we grow apart, maybe they stop wanting to deal with me, maybe I don’t want to deal with them.  It’s OK!!!  It’s just the way life is.  There isn’t room for every single person on my road.  I’ll confess – it hurts like shit every time I’ve had to cut someone, untie a relationship or they’ve cut me off.  There will be people who are going to go hard in the paint with you for your lifetime.  In fact, don’t be averse to picking up a few more of these folks should you meet them in the coming years.  Real talk – most folks won’t be there but for a flash in the pan.  Get in, let them serve their purpose in your life and you serve the purpose in their life and then get out.  No need for nastiness or harsh words or foolishness.  Just let people walk when they are ready to go.

When people are ready to go – let them walk.  Of course there are caveats to this lesson. A husband, wife, mother, father, children, siblings, best friends of decades, etc. I suggest working it out.  Reconciliation. However, while dating, meeting new people, doing business, etc?  It only causes damage to hold on to some people.  They’re fighting to get free and you’re hanging on.  You end up getting your face in the dirt because you didn’t want your “good thing” to end. Let folks be and let them go.  Otherwise, you’re likely to be hurt.  Holding on to someone when they’re trying to leave – you’ll get your arm broken.

Be open for new and wonderous things.  Brussel sprouts. Let’s talk about those. I didn’t like them.  I went to a friend’s house and her and husband served brussel sprouts.  As I think to myself: I thought I told them I don’t eat brussel sprouts when they brought them out.  At any rate, because I’m the graceful and polite person that I am – I ate them.  GLORY BE!!! Jesus – lo and behold – I like brussel sprouts! (say that again in Sweet Brown’s voice)  Point being – some things you think you don’t like you may need to try and it and find out.  In 2013 it’s going to look like taking a huge chance on an opportunity outside of my comfort zone, being even MORE transparent, doing what feels good to me and doing what’s right for me.

Choose you.  It’s self-explanatory.  But so many of us choose what everyone else wants us to do over what we should do for ourselves.  I have been guilty of it for years.  I was delivered from that last year.  It doesn’t mean I don’t take others into consideration.  It doesn’t mean I don’t take others’ feelings and needs into consideration.  It just means I’m not on an altruistic sabbatical to sacrifice myself for someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.   Given that knowledge, it sometimes means the choices I make won’t be popular amongst people. It’s not the way things always happen.

Do the work it takes to be happy.  As much as all of us talk about how happy we want to be and the things we want to do, how many of us are actually doing those things to help us get there? I honestly can say about 50 percent.  I talked good game for years about the things I wanted for my life, things I wanted to do and I was STUCK.  You hear me?  I mean, I had some moxy to move and at least put myself in a position to do better.  During the time I’ve been here in DC I have grown.  Immensely.  From a young woman to a woman.  These last 24 months – some of the growth I’ve experienced was unintentional and then I became very specific about it.  I stopped dealing with certain people.  I decided to be honest with me about me.  I went through counseling and got through some hard spaces that had happened.   Some things you need to get over and go THROUGH.  We tend to get stuck in some high time in our life and don’t appreciate the now.  Get with it.  You have the ability to be happy now or tomorrow.  You can bah humbug me and all that, but I’m not feeling it.  So there. Don’t kill my vibe.

Which brings me to my final grand lesson …

Be able to be honest with you about you and about what you want for your life.  This is an answer or a series of answers that take courage.  For me, I’ve always known a few things about myself – I want to write, I want to be happily married, I want a family, I want to make a positive difference.  It doesn’t mean when I talk to friends or family that aren’t so keen on any of that that my dreams and wishes fall by the wayside.  In my Joel Osteen like voice …if God manages to plant that desire in your heart, then it’s possible.  But it takes courage to admit things to ourselves.  I know people who will say they came out the womb with all of this figured out (there are a few) but mostly they are great at hiding the fact they’re feeling around in the dark as much as anyone else. 

These were just a few of the lessons I learned in 2012.  I have more – but I’m saving those!

Note: I have to tell you – I am ridiculously happy! I had one of the most difficult years to date and thought I had lost, but I won. I gained.  I found missing pieces of me. I discovered more of who I am as a woman. I’m thankful. And 2013 is set to be a year of building, restoration and as me and Rodd Klever deemed – convalescing (healing).

Me and some other friends who blog will be on the Dr. Vibe show tomorrow night at 9pm discussing “Lessons Learned in 2012.”  So tune in and tweet me!  To listen live tomorrow night – just visit http://thedrvibeshow.com/ at 9pm.  All you have to do is visit the site and the show will automatically start at 9!

So, what lessons did you learn in 2012? What are your thoughts on the lessons I listed tonight?  Can’t wait to hear from you!

Love,

Rae