Alphabet Series: Alone

The Lonely Tribalist proposed this week that bloggers blog every day of the month (minus one day each week) with a subject based on a letter of the alphabet. It sounded like a fun challenge to me, and I know you people can’t get enough of reading what I have to say…

There are plenty of things in each of our lives that we could talk about in 26 installments if we get creative enough, but I have chosen something that is coming to a close for me, but that is still very much alive in others: singlehood.

So, here we go.

Day One: Alone

The suffocating dread of being alone began assaulting me in high school, an already tender time. It seemed everyone around me had a significant other. The ones who didn’t were experiencing this foreign concept of dating. An ultra-traditionalist in my young age, I didn’t believe in dating. I had somehow concocted this idea that it was only right to treat any romantic relationship as “marriage practice,” trying my best to make everything as perfect as I could make it before “the big game” (a.k.a. marriage). Subsequently, this meant only dating one person at a time.

I’m not going to say I blame my church’s teachings for how I felt, but I think there were lessons about marriage and relationships that weren’t fully explained, so I drew my own conclusions, which resulted in misery. And the immaturity of teenage boys can’t be overstated. Perhaps they weren’t ready for someone as serious as I was.

I combined my church lessons of molding myself to be a godly wife with society’s lessons to be a strong, independent woman. To illustrate how that worked for me, my mom, who always had a good rapport with our church youth group, once asked a group of older boys in the group (while I was sick in bed and therefore not present at the time) why none of them ever asked me out. They had just been talking about how smart, talented and mature I was.

Their collective response: “Monica doesn’t seem like she needs anybody.”

So there I was, spending countless hours and prayers trying to prepare myself as a suitable – no, I think I wanted to be exceptional – girlfriend, and it was backfiring. In my quest for perfection, I was failing and becoming “too perfect.” To say I was in despair would be an understatement. I was a teenager, keep in mind.

As time went on, my choice in men improved with each love interest (I only had four before Cory), but the disappointment and anguish piled up with every ending. If you’ve never had a crushed spirit, I’m not sure if I can explain it. Two failed relationships literally provoked wailing (I don’t consider myself easily given to dramatics). Some days I would lie on my bed, my face buried in a tear-soaked pillow, feeling the breaking of my heart. There seemed to be a hole somewhere inside that collected the flakes and chunks that a memory chiseled from my heart. But the hole didn’t swallow the pieces; it just let them topple on top of each other and rattle my fragile emotions.

It wasn’t until I decided to cover the hole with what I can only describe as an internal landfill that my dread of being alone began to play second fiddle to other things, like running, going to dinner with friends, reading, watching movies and – yes – dating.

I had an undeniable hope in my life, not because I thought my future husband was just a few months away (though he was), but because it was mine to live. Crazy as it sounds, I even started finding joy in picking outfits to wear to work. Every day was a new opportunity for fun.

But believe me, it’s easier for me to type it than it was for me to do it. If you face some of the same circumstances I did, I’m not going to mislead you and tell you that it’s just as simple as reading an inspirational Instagram post and smiling and finding the silver lining. It’s not.

For some of you reading this, you’ve long been happy in your singlehood, and I tip my hat to you, because you have an ability I struggled to even halfway achieve for years. For others of you, to have that forever someone is the holy grail of your life. And you know what? That’s fine, I think. Some people may say you’re weak or old-fashioned, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Did I finally reach a point where I was happy by myself? Sure, but that didn’t mean I wanted to rub it in everyone’s face and harp about how all men do is bring a woman sorrow and how awesome my life is because I can do whatever I want. I still wanted a husband, but instead of wanting him now, I wanted him when it was time.

And that’s when being alone didn’t mean a life sentence. It just meant that I was standing on stage in the dark, waiting for the lights to come up and the scene to change.

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