Somebody asked me today why I was single. What’s more, they delivered it with an incredulous tone to their voice, as if there was something wrong with being single. As if there was something wrong with me.
Maybe there is; the juries out on that one as we speak.
There is quite a simple answer to the question they framed, although I wasn’t sure they had the time or the interest to stand there and listen. I don’t think they actually expected an answer; they just wanted to point out that I am single.
As if it’s a curse or something.
I’m single by choice, and have been for a long time. Don’t feel sorry for me. I do have opportunities; I just choose not to take them up. And the simple but actually quite complex reason for this is people.
People are dangerous to my mental health, with their drama and their thoughtlessness and their nasty comments and their hurtful actions. Or is that just the people I have chosen in the past?
If so, then the problem lies with me, and my ability to attract assholes and allow them to treat me badly for far too long.
I don’t have the best track record. My first real boyfriend cheated on me. My second boyfriend also cheated on me quite extensively, gifted me with a (luckily treatable) STD and tried to accuse me of giving it to him!
Boyfriend #3 was a narcissist.
Back then, the term narcissist wasn’t bandied around as much as it is today, so I had no idea what a poisonous creature he was. Stupidly, I had convinced myself I was in love, and allowed him to belittle me, estrange me from my friends, gaslight me, and basically destroy my self esteem.
When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up and it took me quite some time to find myself again. When I fell pregnant after he bullied me into coming off birth control pills and refused to use condoms himself, I told him he didn’t need to stick around. He insisted, and was pretty horrendous throughout my pregnancy.
As soon as I met my little boy, I realised that I had never truly experienced love until that moment, and the narcissists hold over me was gone. He accused me of changing; I told him he no longer had the power to mentally abuse me.
10 years later, I can’t regret the relationship because it gave me my son, but my past experiences have messed me up. I don’t trust easily, my expectations are too unrealistic, and I see hidden agendas everywhere.
Free from his hold over me, I have made some pretty bad decisions in the past decade, when my heart has been crying out for a soulmate but searching in all the wrong places. I have now been completely single since 2015.
Do I miss the companionship? I don’t think you can miss something you’ve never had. None of my past relationships have been particularly happy, with cuddles on the sofa and ‘you and me against the world’ togetherness. In all honesty, I would love to find that. But I still to this day look in the wrong places, and I don’t know how to stop that.
So, you wanted to know why I’m single, random work colleague. The simple reason is, people have broken me and I need time to piece myself back together. This involves: staying away from people.
One day, I hope I’m ready for a real, grown-up, authentic relationship with somebody who loves me and who I can trust implicitly. But first I need to love and trust myself, and I can only achieve this by allowing myself to heal.