There is something about the freedom of being single that is exquisite and yet hope lingers, hope for more. As a twenty-something I was still searching for the one–you know what I’m talking about. My mother was from an older generation who believed to some extent that all women needed a man to complete themselves and so at a young age I was conditioned to believe the same. Then there was the other part of my mother that kicked in as soon as I hit puberty. She became so over-protective she smothered any hope I ever had of a boy giving me a second look. She picked out all my clothing (dressing me like a 90-year-old granny), refused to allow me to cut or style my hair, and make-up was strictly forbidden outside clear lip gloss. I often wondered why she treated me as if I were a persona non grata. She sent me mixed signals throughout my teenage years telling me never to depend on men and at the same time expecting me to get married and then start popping out babies.
Fast forward to my 28th year and a conversation I had with my mother’s sister. It turned out there was a clear psychological reason for the mixed signals my mother had sent. At seventeen she had an affair with a married man fifteen years her senior. In this day and age a man such as this would discover himself sent up the proverbial river for statutory rape–end of story. Not in my mother’s case. An older sister (not the one who told me this) followed her when she sneaked out of the house to meet him and then told their mother. Dear old grand-mum wrote a lovely letter to the man’s wife telling her to get her husband under control or she would call the local sheriff. Suffice to say the affair stopped and my mother, devastated, was never allowed to mention it again. Fortunate for her she met my father close to ten years later and the rest is history. Of course she allowed her experience as a teenager to influence the way she treated me. In her own way she truly believed she was protecting me from what she’d experienced, but in the end she messed up my head when it came to sex vs. love and vice versa.
This is where I get back to the being single part.
I spent my twenties trying my damnedest to find love. The biggest mistake I made was trusting with a childish mentality that those around me were being as honest as I was. My second mistake was confusing sex with love. My third and last mistake was believing what all the fairy-tales and half of my mother had told me; that my life was incomplete and worth next to nothing unless I had a man. What eventually changed my way of thinking was one too many pathetic excuses for a relationship and a deep depression from which I almost didn’t pull myself.
One night as I sat alone in a self-pitying, depressive spiral it was as if a switch flipped in my brain, perhaps one had. I can’t explain how, but suddenly the answer came to me–How could anyone love me if I didn’t love who I was? And for that matter, who was I? I’d spent so many years trying to be so many things for so many people that I’d never given myself a chance to discover the answer to that question. I was twenty-eight then and now at forty-four I’m still discovering the answers to that question.
Yes, I did say answers because simply put folks most of us never discover who we are completely. Those who do are blessed in ways I can only imagine. There are still days I hate myself, I won’t lie, yet the majority of days I am content perhaps even happy with what I have discovered of who I am.
And who am I so far?
I am an artist, writer, support network for those who need my strength, good friend, tomboy, smoker, closeted chef, solitary pagan, photographer, property manager, a sensitive who speaks to spirits, an angry person who uses her anger to accomplish positive things, and first a strong, independent woman.
These are the things I am, each one a page in the book of my life, and the story continues to evolve. I have yet to see the last page and I hope never to see the end of one amazing story. Even if love with a partner never makes an appearance in the cards.
Although, at the moment the single being in the universe who does love me for who I am–bad, good, beautiful, and ugly, warts and all–is sleeping at my feet. It doesn’t matter to her that I’m flawed because I am her world and she is mine. When all else fails she can make me smile, laugh, and late at night as I lay next to her I feel as if all is right with the world.
Who is this mysterious beauty?
Sometimes love comes in a small and furry package.