I’ve been single just at two years now, yet it has only been recently that I have embraced this lifestyle. I have been enjoying it. It offers me vast amounts of time to observe and reflect. Unlike other divorced people I know on blogs or in real life, I do not have a young child that must continually switch between parents. My two children are young adults; 21 and 18 years old, and although they live with dad, they can come and go when they please. For close to a year I was separated from them through distance, but recently I have been able to move back to where they live and get to see them quite regularly. Distance in any relationship is difficult at best.
Living by myself often means I don’t have to follow anyone elses patterns of living. Although a challenge in a relationship, one often concedes to the other and soon enough a routine often sets in where you start to feel resentful but aren’t sure why. As a single observing two of my friends this week, I saw this play out. My male friend (who is also a single) told me he needed his space. I gave him a day of no contact, although even if we don’t see each other, we usually send a hello, how is your day text. This gentleman is reflective and meditates for hours everyday. I admire that quality and respect his privacy. He asked after a 24 hour hiatus if I were ok… insert smiley here. I am more than ok to give you the space, time and distance you need from me. He hasn’t experienced this type of ‘treatment’ before from a woman friend and said “I appreciate your independance!” I was amused and probably laughed out loud. Independance? Have I not displayed that quality in the last two years? Maybe at first when he gave me affection that I needed to feel ok, I was clingy, suffocating. In giving him the space and distance he needed, he saw how I’ve ‘grown’ in the short time we’ve known each other through this small, insignificant act.
My other dear friend just celebrated her second year wedding anniversary. This is her second marriage; she tried to live as a single between marriages but couldn’t find her way. When a person is in a long term relationship of 10 + years, becoming a single overnight is a daunting and scary endeavor. I’ve experienced it. Of course the demise of a relationship of that length doesn’t happen overnight, yet when I was near the end of my own 20 year marriage, I never thought I’d end up single. I mean Edith and Archie Bunker lived together miserably for many decades, yet still showed each other affection once in a while. Even at our worst, I never suspected he would want me out of the home. Back to my friend: She sent me private message through Facebook last night from her bathroom. Yes, 42 years old with four children 2 biological/ 2 step, a very intelligent woman, locked in her bathroom. Why? Because her doting husband is bugging the be-jezus out of her. She basically explained to me, “I am constantly ‘on’ for him. I just want to be left alone for tonight.” From the outside looking in, you know they are happily married. Yet obviously he is not reading her signals by listening and watching her nonverbal cues and she isn’t communicating effectively with him by voicing her needs clearly. It is easy to say to someone tell him (her) how you feel, yet in practice… well I for one have been there. I know I placed a back-story onto everything I did in the latter years of my marriage. I would think before acting or reacting, “How is he going to react to this?” My own step- dad use to say “I’m walking on eggshells around here…” now I know exactly what he meant by that.
As a single I don’t have that relationship drama to contend with. I don’t have to explain why I am needing space or why I feel goofy and want to jump on the bed or play in the rain. Or why I like lettuce wilted (yet still crunchy!) under hot chicken stew. I don’t have to really answer to anyone but my employer and those entities I owe money to. I am feeling this freedom and loving it; conversely, I am missing being a part of a whole. How can this contrast be? We need each other. We need each other to give us the space and freedom to be ourselves.
Schopenhauer’s fable fable about porcupines in a relationship sum up this little muse:
(Paraphrased) Several porcupines on a cold winter’s day try to cuddle with one another for warmth, security and companionship through the cold, terrifying storm. At first, these needs were met, but as their quills started to penetrate each others skin, they realized the pain and discomfort was unbearable and they were forced to retreat. Soon they became lonely and cold, so once again they tried to cuddle. They tried different positions. They tried. Once again the pain and discomfort became unbearable.
‘The evidence … shows that almost every intimate emotional relation between two people which lasts for some time–marriage, friendship, the relations between parents and children–contains a sediment of feelings of aversion and hostility, which only escapes perception as a result of repression’…
“All relationships … require us to contain contradictory feelings for the same person. As the poet Molly Peacock observed: “There must be room in love for hate.”
My last thought as a newly single is this: When I do find that I want to commit to another person longterm, I hope that through lovesick eyes I can see that we are just porcupines and through the ebb and flow of a relationship and backing away occasionally doesn’t mean loss or jealousy, but only space. Literal and simple, space. Space to feel a bit of freedom in a committed, ball and chain relationship we all tend to think of when traversing the long, sometimes challenging, everlasting, journey into a committed relationship.
Quote by Freud has been snagged from http://rummuser.com/?p=727