I don’t have a lot of friends, and most of those live far, far away. I have no social circle here. A few people I can call in an emergency. A few people I can call for a drink (but whose schedules most likely won’t sync up – those friends who float on the periphery, good but not great). But that’s OK. It’s hard to paint a picture of just how it’s OK, exactly, but I’m best on my own. Just me and my cats, a phone call now and then, a bunch of superficial comments on the internet, a day of gossiping and telling jokes at my job. I’m OK.
What’s funny about being OK is that it’s been a little over a month since I got dumped, after three years of dating. That relationship followed right on the back of another, in which I broke up with someone else after eight years. Eleven straight years of dating. I guess I was just tired of it. Tired of constantly thinking about someone else, and how each of my actions impacted them. Nothing too big or too small to worry about. The toilet paper I bought. The frequency at which I plucked my eyebrows. The color scheme of the throw pillows purchased for the couch. The weight of the duvet, the thickness of the door mat, the products used to scrub the refrigerator drawers. The cut of my underwear, lift of my bra, shadow of my cellulite. The shape of my bikini line, the application of my eye shadow, that bout with bra strap acne…every aspect of my life was checked and double checked, and I always came up wanting.
My old ex (not the latest ex – see, that’s a thing I don’t know how to navigate, what do I call them now?) commented often on how little money I was making. It made me feel like shit. I loved my job, but grew to hate it. It would never pay me what he thought I should be making. I didn’t have any opinion for myself, just myself as he saw me, or maybe myself as he wanted me to be. And I wasn’t that person that he felt I could/should be. I was someone else. Who, I didn’t know. I still don’t know, though I’m working at it.
Over the last three years, I’ve been fighting to become myself, and in many ways, my latest ex helped me immensely with that process. But I also let him hold me back, although it was completely unintentional on his part. I still made all of my decisions based on his wants, needs, interests. Thankfully we have much in common, so I wasn’t making decisions contrary to my own wants, needs, and interests, but still it was him at the forefront of my brain, not me. Even so, I learned that I love hiking, and rediscovered my love of camping and nature, of solitude and books and the BBC.
And now I am alone, and grateful for the opportunity. To be blatantly honest, it’s freeing. I’m happier. It’s not that I don’t miss him; we saw each other last week, and I still love him deeply. But suddenly there’s more room in my life for me. I can be my first priority for the first time in eleven years. I’m not constantly worried about all possible aspects of this secondary individual. I won’t spend every waking moment worrying about how his depression is treating him today, or whether he’s unhappy with my weight, or whether he’d eat chicken pot pie if I cooked it. Now I have room to muse over my own needs and desires, to contemplate my growth. My daily anxiety is significantly reduced, because I simply don’t worry about myself in the same way that I worry about and for other people. I never have. When it comes to me, I’m generally confident and optimistic. So I’m doing well – I have no doubt that soon I will be thriving.
My friends have been asking me how I’m holding up. In some ways, my life is small, but it’s been that way for ages. I’m working hard to pay off my debts, so I can live a much bigger life in the not-too-distant future. I spend 98% of my life outside of work alone, with three cats. But I’m doing exactly what I want to do every moment, and better than that, I’m THINKING exactly what I want to think every moment. No wasted energy on people who are fully capable of worrying about themselves.
There are many more miles to walk. I’m not done with figuring this life out, by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m not quiet because I’m wallowing in inner pain. I’m just busy being OK.