Being single and Goo Goo Doll triggers

So I’m laying in bed this morning doing what I do when I wake up in the morning, I’m scrolling through my facebook mindlessly. A friend of mine had posted a video. I don’t know why I clicked on it. It’s the Goo Goo Dolls singing Iris. One of the most overplayed songs of the late 90’s and I’m watching them play in the rain and I’m thinking about how I forgot how good looking the lead singer was and then the lyrics hit my brain:

“And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it’s over
I just don’t wanna miss you tonight

And I just started crying those deep aching sobs that come from that place you bury deep inside yourself when you’re afraid to feel what you feel for long periods of time. Loneliness.

It looks like a pretty cool show actually. . ..

Spotify likes to do that thing where they show you what you’ve been listening to for the last year and I was surprised by some of the songs.

Linens by Water Liars came back into rotation. A few years ago, this song slayed me, laid me out, along with Let it Breathe. I couldn’t listen to them for a long time. They are back, but they cut for different reasons, not because they are attached to someone, but because they are attached to who I’ve become.

I can’t come up with another song that so perfectly sums up the wobbly balance of life for so many, myself included. That fine line between desiring a loving, deep, soul fulfilling connection with another human with whom you share your bed and your life; and the fear of knowing that something might be intrinsically broken inside you that simply won’t allow it.

We were kissing in the kitchen, I was listening
To the coffee and the bacon drip and sizzle
There was flour on my hands from the biscuits in the pan
And I was happier than I thought I could be
Then I woke up on the road, my head was killing
Remembering some shit I read in Milton
How the mind is a place unto itself and in it
Makes a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven

What I would give to be quiet beside you
With the window open, a record playing low
To feel your skin between the clean bed linens
Inside a room where sadness never goes

You can do some emotional cutting by listening here:

I have a lot of single friends. I love to read all of the great things we all post about the fabulousness of being single. I love so many aspects of my life and I can’t imagine most days letting go of the freedom I have. I really, really like not answering to anyone. Not because I’m doing anything I couldn’t do in a relationship (mostly). It’s being able to work as much as I want. To stop at 11:00 on a Saturday and put thoughts to keyboard. Or wake up at 3 am and watch Friends AGAIN. Or eat cheese for dinner, washed down with a bottle of wine with no judgement. Or go on ridiculous fitness binges where I eat nothing but vegetables and chicken for 30 days and work out 5 days a week. Whatever the hell it is, I don’t have to say “do you mind, or would it bother you or HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THIS THING I’M DOING”. Or honestly, just having to constantly check in to make sure my partner is doing ok before I can think about myself.

I don’t need therapy to figure out where that comes from. I got it.

Conversely, being single brings with it a loneliness that can fucking GUT you. It’s ok to acknowledge that and still be a warrior goddess of single life.

I also know, that there were years and years of being in relationships that were lonely as hell. My marriage was a lonely space. The things I long for now: intimacy of the soul, someone who sees me, someone who nurtures my mind and my spirit and my body, was all missing from my marriage. Not that he wasn’t thoughtful and kind. We just spoke a different languages and kept missing the mark on the connection I needed.

It’s not that I am unable to connect. I can meet someone across the table in the most random spot and BAM, I feel that connection. Where you just know you know that person even though you just met. That happens to me. I run across these amazing, electric connections that make great friends or lovers, or partners.

I’ve fallen in love a lot. I fall hard, I fall deep; I can see inside your soul and pull out the very best of who you are. I can hand my heart over on a platter. Through the strange twists and turns of my life I’ve been lucky enough to know some phenomenal men. Sometimes they stay awhile, sometimes we move on pretty quickly, they are all a part of what has made me the person that I am.

But that fantasy of a long lasting, healthy relationship that has been presented through movies and songs, is elusive. Based on my playlists, I’m not the only one searching, a lot of people are out there writing songs about it, and a lot of us are listening, trying to decipher the code to “happy relationship”.

Relationships are hard, tricky spaces. Very rarely do I see truly happy and fulfilled couples. I see a lot of people who struggle to keep it together, and some of them find fulfillment in that. The accomplishment of the anniversary. I get it. I remember crossing that 10 year mark and thinking, “fuck yeah, we made it”. And then a year later running out the door with my three little kids because I couldn’t sell it to myself any longer.

And of course, there are other things attached to those long term commitments that are fulfilling besides the number on the calendar of life. I get that. I miss those things too. Being able to sit around and celebrate the humans you have created together, the life you have created together. I don’t get to do that. Hell, at my daughters wedding my ex-husband barely said two words to me. Not because we don’t get along, we get along fine, he just clearly had nothing to say. It was a hollowing feeling.

I have so many goals, plans, things on my bucket list. I want to write more. I want to travel the world. I want to start a business with one of my friends. I want to learn to scuba dive. I want to dance under the stars in Madagascar, go diving in Dahab. I want to skinny dip in the crystalline blue waters in Greece and kiss in the snow in the Alps. I want to to watch fireworks and hold hands and run around with no clothes on for a week in Barbados.

I’d like a partner to join me for life’s adventures. But I’m not going to sacrifice those adventures to make someone fit into my life.

So some mornings I’ll have to wake up and acknowledge that loneliness. To accept it, cry it out, and get up and keep working towards those goals. Maybe I have it in me. Maybe I’m not intrinsically broken. Maybe someday when I’m ready to grow up I’ll settle down in one spot in my head and heart and life. Or maybe I’ll get to the end of the road and say “thanks to you all, for the big moments and the little ones, I appreciate you all” and slip off into the ether knowing that my time on this marble was just a curvy path filled with an amazing cast of characters.

Happy Non-Anniversary

A note to my 21-year-old self, on what would have been your 26th Anniversary.

I can still picture you sitting on blue carpet in your veil and flannel shirt. Sitting in your sister’s old bedroom, leaning against the bed. I remember your doubts that day. I remember how you dried your tears, squared your shoulders and marched down your parents steps to meet your soon-to-be husband. You’ll need that tenacity a lot in the coming years.

No one really told you how marriage worked. There are basic skills you were both lacking: the ability to communicate being a big one. You won’t figure this out for many years.

I hate to break it to you kid, but your marriage isn’t going to last. You pictured a house and kids, a labrador retriever and picket fence, and you get all that. The reality is not what you thought it would be. It’s a lot lonelier. It’s a lot harder. One day, you are going to decide doing it alone is easier than trying to make your marriage work in a way that makes you both happy. This knowledge will break your heart. This will be the hardest decision to make, and you will never quit feeling guilty about it.

Your children will literally be your lifeline and reason to wake up each day. Your love for them and need to provide for them will lead you into careers you would never picture for yourself. You will never have much, but you will have enough. You’ll never be able to give them what you had imagined for them, but you’ll keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You really should have gone to college, but you’ll manage to fashion together a nice career out of moxie and hustle.

You will be humbled. Right now you are cocky and young and have one hell of an attitude. That attitude will help you, and hurt you. You will be your biggest champion and your worst enemy. You are a fighter, but you will learn to choose your battles. You will need to learn to ask for help. From friends and family. You will need to learn grace, and forgiveness. These will not be easy lessons.

You are going to have your heart broken. A lot. You will lose friends. You will lose family. You will lose a child you helped to raise. You will lose lovers. You will lose jobs. And you will survive.

You are going to meet so many wonderful people. You can’t even imagine. You are going to meet men and women that will change your life. Some of these people will only be around for a short while. Some of them you will know for years and years. You’ll have friends who become lovers, and lovers who become friends. You’ll have more female friends than you could have imagined and you will learn so much from them. They will teach you to be soft and open. You will love them harder and longer than any man, be thankful for that.

You are going to see and do so many things. You will travel and go to concerts and meet strangers and stay up too late. You will sing Carly Simon songs with Irish boys in a little bar in Ireland.

You will go running through Chicago in your bare feet, heels dangling from your fingertips so you can make it to the bar in time to watch the Blackhawks cinch the cup with your best friend. You can’t even imagine that now, but it will happen and it will be one of many great stories to tell someday. You will have so many great stories.

You’ll never love someone again like you loved the man you married and had your children with. You can’t even fathom right now how someday you’ll barely really know each other. But he will always have your back. He will turn out to be a great dad. He will be the best ex-husband a girl could ask for. He will also be a monumental ass before that happens and he will hurt you like no one else could. But you will both put all of that aside and raise your children together, but apart, in the best way you can. It’ll be ok.

Rest assured, you will fall in love again. You’ll fall in love a lot actually. But you will spend most of your time without a partner. Don’t be afraid of that. It was scary as fuck for a long time, but you will get past that. You’ll do more things by yourself than you can picture. You will be brave.

You will never have a silver anniversary. You will wonder if you will meet that one person to settle down with. There will be moments fear will grip your chest in the middle of the night. And you will continue, at times, to be lonely.

The most important thing 21-year-old me: you will have the best, most amazing children. You are going to do some things really poorly and it won’t be easy. You are going to miss some things you didn’t think you would. They are going to go through hard times, really hard times. And it will break your heart into tiny pieces when they hurt, every time they hurt.

They will be the best things you ever accomplish.

Happy non-anniversary to my first (and only) ex-husband. Happy non-anniversary 21 year old me.