People feel sorry for me all the time. I can hear it in their voices, in the questions they ask me. They will shake their heads and cluck their tongues disapprovingly. Sometimes they pat me on the arm sympathetically. And I’ve heard about some of the talking that happens behind my back. Oh the poor dear, she is all alone. She doesn’t have a husband.
But here’s the thing they don’t seem to understand – I’m happy to be single.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of getting married as many little girls do. Of course, some of that isn’t so much about being married – it’s just about wearing the pretty princess gowns (I still want to wear one someday) and the flowers and the beautiful cake and all of those other wedding traditions. Of course, I wanted to be loved. Don’t we all? And I knew I wanted kids. In fact, I wanted a big family like the Waltons or the Brady Bunch. (I also wanted to have my own school bus like on the Partridge Family but that’s a different story). And, in my mind, getting married was something you did before you had that big family. I mean, the picture perfect Norman Rockwell family couldn’t happen without a dad in it too.
And then…I was an introvert (still am but in a different, less obvious way). I was painfully shy. I never fit in. I was too tall, I was too smart, I was too nerdy, I was too awkward at sports (although I excelled at dance), I “developed” too early, I was too much the geeky girl with the glasses and the braces. And I thought I was fat. I wasn’t back then. I just matured early and had hips and breasts before anyone else and to them, that made me fat.
I went into my shell and in many ways, I have stayed there all my life. Oh, you might not know it if you met me. In fact, some people meet me and then say, “YOU’RE an introvert? That’s not true!”. But they don’t know. They don’t understand how much of my life is lived in my own head. Because despite the awkwardness and the “not fitting in” when it came to my peers, I have pretty much always felt comfortable and happy inside myself. In fact, when I take “learning styles” tests, I always score very high on intrapersonal learning which is learning and knowing about yourself.
So. how does this all relate to being single? Well, when you’re that happy inside your own mind, it becomes more difficult to let other people in. Not because I’m damaged and incapable of letting others in. Not because I’m sad and pathetic and no one wants to come in. (I’ve had 5 marriage proposals in my lifetime). But because in a lot of ways, I just don’t want to let them in. I have a really happy life. I have my routines, I have my likes and dislikes, I have my hobbies and pastimes. I love them the way they are and I really don’t think I want to share them on a long-term basis.
There are times when I talk to my married friends and I think, wow. I just couldn’t do it. You know how some people say they just aren’t cut out to have kids? I just don’t think I’m cut out for married life. Please don’t think that I’m bashing it. It looks lovely…..for other people. I can SEE the appeal in it for others. But the having to share my space, my days, my silences with someone else every single day? I’ve tried it before (not marriage, but being in a committed relationship) and it made me twitchy. Even though I truly loved the person, even though I enjoyed their company – I simply never felt totally relaxed. I felt itchy. I felt on edge and unsettled. Sometimes it even felt like I was breathing really shallowly and couldn’t really truly catch my breath. In those moments when I was on my own again, I could feel this giant exhale being released from my body. I could feel the tension being released from my muscles. I could feel comfortable in my own skin and in my own brain once again.
I was tempted into marriage a few times. But ultimately I realized that it wasn’t for the right reasons. I thought that being married would help me fit in. I thought it was “what you do”. I thought it would make me normal. And then one day I realized that I don’t care if I fit in. I don’t care if I am part of the societal norm. I care about me. I care about what’s right for me. I’m happy as I am. You don’t need to feel sad for me. I have a really happy life and it’s just the way I want it to be (okay, I wish my cholesterol was lower and that I could travel more and I wish I could see my family more and that my dog could live forever but still, it’s really close to being the perfect life for me).