Art of Being Single: Letting Go of the “Deal”

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My friend Anne moved to a foreign country with her long-term boyfriend to teach. The relationship has been unraveling slowly, and we’ve caught back up with each other during this time. One of the best things about recovery is that we know that support helps …. in every situation. We actually met a long time ago when I was struggling with numbing out over the pain in my second marriage. I chose at that time to keep numbing out, and we lost touch before I got emotionally sober again. The interesting thing is that she was on the same sort of journey – different story, different man – at the same time. Neither one of us had any idea because we weren’t talking. But, we are now. I’m on the other side of that troubled relationship and single. She’s on the other side of her troubled relationship and trying to make it work in the current one. Neither path is a bed of roses.

We were talking this weekend, and she said that she was really disillusioned because she didn’t think the “deal” was ever going to happen for her. The “deal” she was referencing was the kind of relationship that all of us dream about. For me, it’s a relationship where I’m loved and accepted for who I am, and I love and accept my significant other. The “deal” would include all of the love, honor and cherish stuff that is talked about at weddings. The “deal” would NOT include a miserable ending. The “deal” might include growing old together or facing that final moment when death knocks upon one party’s door. The “deal” is not perfect by any means, but it’s …. well … really a big “deal”.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that the “deal” probably won’t happen for me, either. I’ve had two failed marriages, and I’m starting to get pretty disillusioned with the dating scene and relationships in general. In fact, I’ve realized that most people that you think have the “deal” actually don’t. Most couples are at one end of a spectrum between contentment and unhappily tolerant of each other with not really caring at all being the middle ground. I do believe that some people have the “deal”. And, if you’re one of those people that have the “deal”, you are extremely blessed. You are a rock star in my book. And, whether people tell you so or not, you are envied. We all want the “deal.” But, most of us are dealt something entirely different.

Right after I divorced my first husband, I went to my Aunt Iris and Uncle Dave’s 25th anniversary party. It was sad for me because I wanted that. I wanted the kind of marriage that lasted 25 years and was still going strong. At the anniversary party, my mother said something about Aunt Iris’ other husband. I said, “She was married before?” In my strict Catholic family history, there weren’t many divorces. “Dave is her fifth husband,” she said. OMG … and she got the “deal”. I remember feeling a little relieved that it could happen to me if I just kept the faith. Uncle Dave died a year or so ago, and now Aunt Iris is going it alone. At her 25th anniversary party I asked her for advice on recovering from my divorce. “Never look back,” she said. And, I tried. But, damn, it was on my heels all the time. I’m much better at it now.

I know from my marriages that there were times when I felt like I had the “deal.” Those times would ebb and flow with the times that I hated being in those marriages. There were good times, and there were bad times. I can imagine that people that have the real “deal” also have those good times and bad times, although they might not have the extensive lows that a divorced couple might experience. Either you have good and bad while you’re with somebody or you have good and bad with different somebodies. I know that I felt more lonely in my lonely married moments than I’ve ever felt in my single lonely moments. There’s just nothing like married lonely. I can remember waking up next to a man that I loved and feeling afraid to touch him because of some invisible 80 foot wall that kept him from seeing me and me from seeing him. I can remember longingly wanting to tear down that wall in the middle of the night but not having any idea of where to start. Even if I had tried to start, I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to begin because of my fear of what was on the other side. I didn’t have the tools, the energy or the resources to fix those relationships even if I could have.

I can only speak from my own experience, but, those of us who don’t have the “deal” – and there are lots of us – single and married, long to be loved. And, it doesn’t matter what sexual orientation you are, either. My friend Anne and I joke about going lesbian because we can’t seem to make it work with men. But, a fellow lesbian blogger wrote this blog yesterday that gave me a window into her desire for the “deal”. What I can say is that I grieve over the fact that I will probably never find the “deal” at this point in my life. It is a loss. I can’t deny that I feel a lot of sorrow, shame and even guilt over not being able to have it. I feel guilty that I could never scale that wall in my marriages. I didn’t have the skill nor did I have the courage to reveal who I was and what I wanted or to face the rejection that might come from asking. I don’t know if people that have the “deal” are better at relationships, are braver, healthier or are just freaking lucky. It doesn’t matter. They have it, and I don’t. I have to build my life without a promise of the “deal.” And, the older I get, the less important it seems to have it.

I have accepted in large part my singleness. I get angry when I talk about my longing for relationship and people tell me I’ll find him. Well, I don’t believe that. Yes, I believe it’s possible. But, not everybody gets the “deal”. And, many people that get in relationships still don’t have the “deal.” So, I may not get it, and I really WANT to accept that. I don’t want to look back and see that I didn’t live my life fully because I was waiting for a gift that was never given to me. My “deal” may be found in several relationships instead of one. I think people that are married all their lives actually have several different relationships anyway. The relationships might be with the same person, but it changes, often dramatically, in 25 or 50 years. I get a “deal” where I get to fall in love numerous times in this lifetime. I get a “deal” where I get hurt and face endings several times in this lifetime. My “deal” is different than the “deal” Anne and I both wanted. But, ultimately, the great dealer in the sky is the one who chooses the “deal” we get and fighting it is a colossal waste of time. I just wish He’d take away the longing if He’s going to take away the “deal.”

Hugs, Anne. Like I always say …. Next ….. ๐Ÿ™‚

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50 Something single woman in Michigan who loves the outdoors, people, running and hiking.

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