It may seem an odd thing to celebrate, but as of today, I have been single again for five years.
Today in 2011, I was in a pretty rotten place. I’d pretty much known where things were headed for several months; deciding that we weren’t going to live together anymore (or even live in the same time zone) was a pretty unmistakeable sign. But I was still unprepared for how hard it hit me on that Wednesday night when I realized that it was really over after nine very happy years and six really shitty months.
Being “coupled” has never been my natural state, even though there were some times that I really wanted it to be…and even though there was one time where it really did feel right. By the time I met Mark in 2001, I was pretty comfortable–hell, even enthusiastic–about the prospect of remaining a confirmed bachelor for life. One very serious case of love changed all that and I do not for a minute regret that it happened. All in all, it was a very happy time in my life and I was very sad when it ended.
The fact that it ended at a time when there were a lot of other things going on in my life made it much harder, and the fact that I didn’t feel entirely comfortable talking about most of it even with close friends made it even harder.In the end, I was not prepared to make one really big compromise that might have (at best) delayed the end, but would have done so at the expense of my sanity and my emotional health–which looks in retrospect like the very moment I started my recovery. It didn’t seem like it at the time but ultimately, I realized there was a bigger problem in my life/brain/body chemistry/whatever and I began working on that. Pretty successfully, I think.
But I’ve also spent the past five years learning how once again to be that single person I used to love. I think I’ve been pretty successful at that, too. Frankly, I like myself better as a single person. I think most of my friends like me better that way, too. I’m more adventurous, I generally have more fun, and I don’t have to have anyone else along for the ride when I travel (which in itself is justification enough). And the introvert in me has more time for my friends now that most of the limited time I’m willing to allot to other people is not dedicated to just one other person.
I’m also more independent. In retrospect, I gave up a lot of that when I was coupled, just because it was easy to do so, and he was willing to take over a lot of things and make a lot of decisions. And, of course, that really wasn’t fair to either of us. It took me a long time to get back in the habit of taking care of things on my own. I’m still working on it. I think the task of building a very successful and satisfying new career while I was pretty much in “the depths” is what saved me. In fact, I didn’t even miss one day of work, which either means that I really loved my job or that I was scared to stay home the next day. Or both.
Again, I don’t regret having spent nine-plus years in this relationship. Not for a second. I do have some regrets about the end and the aftermath, but that’s to be expected.
Five years later, though, I also don’t regret where I am today. I’m happy, I like my life, and I finally gave the goddamned chair to Habitat.
I think that’s worth celebrating.