I’ve been pondering whether I should, or could, write this next post. But sometimes, things just have to be written down and put out there to heal.
Eight months ago, my six-year relationship came to an end. Breaking up is possibly one of the strangest experiences one can have. Suddenly everyone you come into contact with wants to pass on their wisdom on how you “deal” with this (even if you don’t ask for it), you start crying for no reason, days go by in a blur, and you make impulsive decisions.
But there is always a part of you, deep down, that knows you will feel better and everything really was for the best. It’s just finding a way to get that thought to come through the most strongly when all your other natural reactions are to question everything about yourself and what on earth the future has in store for you, when just a few months previously you expected it to take another turn.
In the past eight months I have left the country three times (if only it could have been more!), experimented with dating (weird), downloaded (and deleted) Tinder, read a gazillion articles about being single, re-ignited my feminist spirit, made new friends and reconnected with old friends, and realised that being by yourself can be the best thing in the world. Yep, really.
The first time I really believed this was when I was in the middle of my spontaneous-trip-to-the-other-side-of-the-world-to-try-to-fix-my-broken-heart.
Shortly after the relationship ended, my best friend Anne suggested I come meet her on her travels. It was Boxing Day, it was my first Christmas without a boyfriend in six years, I was horribly sad and trying not to break down every second of the day, and there she was on my screen, Skyping me from Bali. She had just embarked on an 8-month tour of South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and I needed to escape. Escape London, escape reality, escape my life. So I booked flights to Thailand. The first time I had ever flown so far, alone (but my second trip there).
So during the Easter holidays I set off for Bangkok. And I spent the majority of that 17-hour journey sobbing. I literally had no idea why. I think I terrified the two Chinese teenage boys next to me.
At first I thought it was just more sad crying but it wasn’t until a few days into my trip I realised why; I felt free. Like as if all my worries and upset were falling away from me as the plane left the Tarmac. All that upset and mental torment I had put myself through over the last few months was just escaping my body. I watched the most beautiful sun rise over Russia from my window seat and realised, however corny this may sound, that life goes on and can start again, no matter how awful you think it will be. But that is also fucking terrifying.
And I found myself again. Like a lost friend. There, on the other side of the world, I realised I had forgotten who I was over the last six years. I wasn’t half of a duo, and I didn’t want to be, ever again. That’s not to say I don’t want another relationship, but I want a relationship where I can flourish. No one should be defined by their relationship, or their relationship status. And that’s who I had become and I saw it in so many other people, and it made me so sad.
Independence is wonderful.
And because of that, I will not do what everyone and their dog seems to think is the best thing to do – date or find another boyfriend. It’s as if people think your sole job in life is to find someone else. Why? Are people not capable of being viewed as “successful” in life unless they have a partner? Why are you supposed to escape this “status” as soon as possible? Being in a relationship should be no-one’s sole source of happiness.
Again, it sounds corny – but the only person I want to date is myself. I may have found my lost soul in Thailand, but she’s not completely re-made just yet.
So, why, would I ever jump into something with someone so soon? A relationship straight away is more than likely to be a re-hash of the last. And who wants that? For me to know that, and for the other person to know they are just there as a hurdle to get over the last person – no one can win in that situation.
In the words of T Swift: “Band aids don’t fix bullet holes.”
Plus, dating is weird. Men are weird. (I really could do a blog devoted to strange things men say to me on dates, or think will impress me). You forget all this in a relationship. You get used to your other half’s quirks – but you forget how weird you thought they were at the beginning. You feel superior – “I have found this person, I will never have to date again, mwahahahahaha” and then there you are looking at this random man and thinking “why the hell am I interested in the weird people you see on your commute to work and why do you think this is interesting for me to listen to?”
And then you realise – YES I AM BEING SELFISH BUT IT IS FANTASTIC TO PUT MYSELF FIRST FOR ONCE.
Being selfish is not a bad thing every now and again. If you can’t be alone and enjoy it, then what is the point. You are stuck with yourself for the rest of your life; you might as well learn to like yourself while you can. And it’s harder to do that it in a relationship. No matter what you do, you have to think about someone else (unless you are a shit partner). And when you can appreciate yourself and be happy in yourself, you are going to be in a much better place the next time you want (yes, want, not need) to be in a relationship.
Giving myself some time and space to learn to be alone and to do what I want to do is my only priority. I was half of what I possibly could be as a person in previous relationships.
Six years is the best part of my twenties. I turned 27 this month, and I haven’t been truly single since I was 16. While everyone else on my Facebook feed seems to be getting married, and popping out sprogs, all I want to do is enjoy myself and the world, try to figure out who the hell I am (although, whoever knows the answer to that?!). Explore who you are, make mistakes, discover new things and develop your soul.
And in going through heartbreak I have made a promise to myself to never be half of a person again.
It is especially true for women that society makes you feel you have to be a certain way, you have to have achieved certain things by a certain age, and you have to want to be married and have children to be happy. In previous relationships the question was always “when are you getting married and having children?”. Why would I want to do that when I still have my own life to build?
As a couple you are not “one”; you are two individuals, a team. A team can only work when the individual components have a strong foundation and I fully intend to create and build my future at my own pace and be as strong by myself as possible. So should you.
Being “single” isn’t about finding a relationship; being single and happy is the most enviable relationship you can achieve.