Vulnerable, single girl things.

I don’t talk about love and dating in public.  Ever.  Only my closest friends (and only one or two family members) know the true details of my love life.  It’s a protective mechanism.  I don’t want to have to explain myself or my actions.  I don’t want to have share if there is heartbreak.  I think there might even be some embarrassment at being thirty-four and single (oh dear, I just said it out loud).  Yep – that’s embarrassment I’m feeling. 

It’s also a vulnerability thing.  I hate being vulnerable.  HATE IT.  Over the years I’ve learned to protect myself from vulnerability.  It’s changed my relationships, and not in a good way.  It’s caused me to separate myself emotionally from those I love the most.  And it has definitely affected my love life. 

Recent events have changed my perspective a little bit.  There are lots of things I still don’t like sharing, but I’ve been making a list of things I’ve learned over the past years as a single girl.  It’s hard to write.  I struggle with so many things on the list.  Struggle daily.   Maybe it’s time I shared.  If only for my sake.

Big breath.  

Things I wish I had known about being single, dating and love a long time ago (a non-exhaustive list):
  1. That Cinderella, fairy-tale thing?  It might not happen.  At the very least it might not happen on your timetable.
  2. It is virtually impossible to make the right choices, 100% of the time.  You might make bad choices all of the time, or just every once in a while.  When you do, forgive yourself.  Don’t spend the following days, weeks, and months torturing yourself.  It could be something small, it could be something big.  It is sometimes going  be hard to forgive yourself.  But do it.  
  3. Don’t ever say “I will never...”  I’m just saying.  One day you’ll be facing that “never” thing. 
  4. It’s okay to feel like your married friends and family just don’t “get it”.  There isn’t anything wrong with that.  The only problem you will run into is if you let that emotion take root inside of you and allow it to become bitterness and anger.
  5. It’s okay to ask your married friends and family to not give you dating and love advice.  If they love you, they will respect that.  Sometimes they don’t know what to say, either.  And sometimes they fall back on clichés that might infuriate you.  It might even be a relief for them to not have to figure out what to say.
  6. Even if you’ve done No. 4 and No. 5, it’s alright to say “okay, I need your support now”.  They will be there.  A shoulder to lean on or to cry on.  They can provide the laughs and the junk food.  They’ll come over to hold your hand even if you really don’t want them to.  They’ll send you funny texts. They’ll be pissed off when you are too sad to be pissed (it’ll make you laugh, too, when they go on a rant)  They’ve experienced heartbreak, too.  It was probably different and may be a long time ago, but they’ve still experienced it.
  7. It’s okay to be disillusioned or disappointed.  It’s okay to question God.  Momentarily.  If I knew why things don’t work out the way you think He’s promised I’d be wealthy, more happy and “God” like.  I don’t have an explanation for why things don’t work the way we think they should.  But, I do have faith, even if it’s shaken sometimes.
  8. It is possible to miss someone to the point of pain.  That doesn’t mean you should call or text them.  Trust me.
  9. You are not responsible for someone elses emotions.  It will feel that way, especially if you are in love, have a relationship and feel deeply connected to someone.  Saying it is easier than teaching your brain and your heart to actually believe it.  It might take some time…until it’s a done deal, see No. 8.
  10. Those words that are spoken during a break-up?  They aren’t necessarily true.  Don’t read them over and over again.  Turn off the record player in your head.  The more you read and listen, they more likely you are to start believing the words are true.  That means you might have to delete texts and voicemails, even if doing so causes more pain.
  11. To experience the greatest emotion, you have to be vulnerable.  You have to be unafraid of the possibility of the pain that vulnerability opens you to.  It would be easy to build walls to protect yourself.  For some it’s not just easy, it’s so ingrained as a coping mechanism that you don’t even realize you are doing it.  Work diligently to dismantle the walls.  You might have to work at it
  12. It’s going to be really, really hard.  It’ll be hard to keep going.   It’ll be hard to not grow unhappy.  It’ll be hard to not feel abandoned.  Don’t give up.
  13. It is possible to be happy and single.  I promise.  That doesn't mean you've given up or that you won't find love.  It just means that you are happy.  Right now.  And that is immensely better than being sad.

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