It had been exactly a week since I’d told him how I felt and the connection between us was radio silent but deep down, I knew the answer was a resounding no. It was the day after Thanksgiving 2018 and I was walking around my room in leggings and a baggy t-shirt, a pie plate full of leftovers in my hand. I slipped on the wooden floor and fell, the tears immediately flowing hot down my face. “I really wanted to be a mom,” I whispered to God, not quite knowing where the small but simple prayer was coming from. “I really wanted to be a mom.” I sat against the wall and cried.
December 2019 and I’m sitting in my car with my best friend, head bent over the steering wheel and tears streaming down my face because for all the bending and compromising I’d done, the person who meant more to me than anyone had slipped away into the night without so much as a goodbye. She rubbed my back and let me cry.
January 2020 and I’m out on a date with someone from an app, not dressed up because I was just wanting to get it over with. I walk in and see someone my dad’s height with blue eyes and think, “Jesus, if there is anything fair and decent left in this world please let me look okay.” I listen to him talk and he shares his white sauce with me, not saying anything when I spill a trail of it across the table. I leave the date and he gives me a friendly hug; I walk to my car and think to myself as I shut the door, “It wasn’t him.” It wasn’t the same guy who’d answered my anxiety-ridden calls and helped me up when I fell and helped me clean up a shelf after I’d broken it. It wasn’t the same guy who’d helped me vacuum before a party or listened to my emotional self-loathing the New Years I was drunk. It wasn’t the guy who I’d been willing to stay friends with, no matter how hurt my own pride had been.
I tried to write a new narrative, telling myself I could be with the blue-eyed guy. I told myself that I could turn my personality down to a low rumble, not have awkward moments, not be emotional, not ask questions about everything. I’m chuckling as I write this, but I told myself I could be with someone who loves jet skis and the lake. I told myself that by the time summer came around, I’d be closer to my goal weight–maybe worth dating, by that time. I told myself I could wear sundresses and be coquettish.
But the next day when I texted him, he told me we could be friends but he hadn’t felt that spark. I sat next to my sister at the dinner table, bouncing my knee anxiously, and felt all the lies come back as soon as we read his text:
“What if I’m too emotional? Ugh, what if he thought I looked skinnier in my picture? What if he thought I was boring? Maybe I didn’t flirt enough. Wait…I didn’t flirt at all. Maybe I didn’t look interested. Maybe I’m not the sort of woman men want. Maybe when I lose the full hundred pounds…someone will want me. Maybe I’m better off alone. If it were (so and so) she would’ve been able to hang onto him. Why can’t my face be friendlier? See? Men just want a woman who can flirt and I can’t even do that. Maybe what I want to do with my life is too different. Who would want to be with someone as independent as me? Who would sign up for a life like what I want to lead? Who would want someone like…me? Maybe all the guys with the same faith as me think I’m wild. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe God’s mad at me and has me on the back-burner. Maybe I have too many tattoos; maybe my mom was right. Maybe I’m too independent. Maybe I come off as clingy. Maybe I’m too vulnerable. Who…who could be with someone with ocd and social anxiety and a past like mine? Maybe he wants someone who doesn’t want a career…Maybe, maybe, maybe.”
The truth is, most of us have someone we’d go anywhere with but the feeling isn’t reciprocated. A lot of us really and truly are okay alone, but Valentine’s Day comes around and we look around to see that same, empty chair at the opposite end of the table, the same unanswered text messages, the same empty space where we’re told something should be there. The truth is, being single is empowering and freeing and…really hard. Valentine’s Day can feel like someone pouring salt in a wound you feel stupid for having because…shouldn’t you just be grateful? There’s someone out there with way worse problems…right?
Eighteen years ago, I was so excited for Valentine’s Day. I was a 9-year-old kid writing SWAK (sealed with a kiss…don’t ask) on the envelopes of all the valentine’s I was handing out to my crushes.
Ten years ago, I was planning a singles party with my best friend and preparing to take loads of pictures that would haunt both of us the rest of our natural born lives.
Six years ago, it had snowed in Greenville and I stood out in my backyard staring up at the sky and thinking about the college boy who was likely pacing back and forth in his dorm room, texting the girlfriend I didn’t know about.
One year ago, I was crushed and hurting.
This year, I’m content with who I am. I love my life, really and truly. But there’s a piece of me that wishes there was someone on the other end of those text messages.
Tomorrow I’ll go dark for the day. I won’t be online. I won’t be answering texts or emails that aren’t work-related. I’ll spend my day quietly, my night reflectively. No, I don’t want to talk about it. No, I don’t want to hear that he’s coming; he’s on his way because my reality is that I may be single my whole life. That’s the cold, hard truth that I have to face as a 27 year old woman. And I’m strong with that knowledge most of the time, but tomorrow…I just don’t feel like being strong.
I love seeing the photos of you with your S/O. Any other day I would smile, celebrate you, cheer you and the life you two are building on. As long as everyone’s happy and healthy, I think relationships are beautiful. I’m not jealous of your relationship. I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I don’t think love is dead. But tomorrow is the one day I take for me, to not watch everyone else’s lives and just be grateful for my life and the people who show up on a daily basis for me, without any strings attached except that they want to and that they see me even when I can’t see myself. I may look back at posts like these and laugh one day, but for right now…I’m going to let myself be young and hurting and confused and even a little bit scared.
And hey, single? Be kind to yourself tomorrow. You’re loved even with no one immediately at your side. Go do something for you and then tell me all about it. We may not have “our person,” but we do have each other. Inbox always open and virtual hugs always ready.