As I wrote yesterday, I am newly single. I was with my ex (ouch – still feels weird and horrible to say) for two and a half years, which in the grand scheme of things was not a long time. It was still a significant period of time though, and overall it was a happy, fun, deeply trusting, love-filled relationship. I ended it. For a number of reasons, mostly because I had changed a lot since we got together. I have been having counselling since last year and I am working on old issues that are still an undercurrent to my behaviour and how I feel day-to-day, although due to being an undercurrent they only tend to pop up in times of crisis. Everybody has them, to some extent, but I want to have a relationship with mine (horribly wanky…and you either get it, or you don’t), or at least to understand them, because they’re part of who I am. I felt as though I needed to really focus on myself for a while and that is difficult to do when you are in a committed, loving relationship. I needed to have no commitment, no emotional ties and no responsibilities to anyone other than myself. And I’ve changed in that time. The way we related to each other had changed. I do believe in making a relationship work, I’m all for it. Sometimes, though, you have to realise why you’re making that decision; whether it’s because you want to cling on to what you had, even though it doesn’t exist anymore, or whether it’s because there is enough of a foundation despite the differences to keep going. I struggled for so long, because I felt that there was a lot to save, and I desperately wanted to save it. In the end, I felt that the differences were too vast, that I had changed too much, and there you have it. Now I am single. A single figure. Alone.
I have never really been properly single. I remember looking at serial monogamist friends of mine, jumping from relationship to relationship, and not understanding why. But since I’ve actually been in relationships, I’ve done the same, only without the guise of the word ‘relationship’. I haven’t necessarily been shacked up with someone but there has always BEEN someone, whether they were ‘mine’ or not. And now I am in this situation, I know why people do this. It is fucking scary being alone, especially if you don’t necessarily have a happy stable family background as an emotional safety net. It’s all about feeling safe, isn’t it? Or at least, I think it is to me. There is a safety in being held, in knowing that you have someone to look out for you. There is also a safety in being able to hold that person and look after them in return (and as something that I am good at, possibly more so for me). There is a beauty that exists in romantic relationships that cannot be mirrored in friendships or indeed any other kind of relationship. Don’t misunderstand me, friendships can be and are beautiful things; as complicated as romantic entanglements, certainly, sometimes deeper, sometimes more intimate, and often more important. I love my friends, dearly, and without them my life would be filled with less love, laughter and understanding. And yet…and yet. It’s not the same is it? Which is why people do bed-hop, go from person to person, seek out another romance, whatever you want to call it. The kinship that comes with sharing your life so closely with another human being is a special and wondeful thing. No wonder we crave it, try so hard to hold onto it, try so desperately hard to recreate it.
Yesterday I had to go out to buy some food and ended up having a DVD binge at a secondhand shop. One of the films that I bought was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of the most beautiful I’ve seen and one of my favourites. One of the other films I bought, which I watched yesterday, was Eat, Pray, Love (shhh at the back there…wanted some fluff) which I actually really enjoyed, despite its multiple flaws, but parts of it hit very close to home and I had to pause it for half an hour in the way one does when one is crying so hard that banshee wailing is occuring, punctuated only by deep gulping and occasional hyperventilation. It was a bit fluffy new age but also resonant in why she was embarking on the journey. From the film: “Since I was 15 I have either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy, I haven’t had so much as two weeks just to deal with myself”. Sort of sums up why I am doing what I am doing. Why despite being terrified of being single, I have made myself so. And in looking for quotes from the film, found these two brilliant ones from the book (which I now intend to read, even if I am mocked mercilessly for it):
“When I get lonely these days I think, so be lonely Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life, welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”