My friend is going through a break-up. It’s been devastating for her, magnified x1000 because she also suffers from anxiety and depression. It’s bad enough feeling severed from something even in the best of circumstances, so yeah..I feel terrible for her.
My last break-up was with my babydaddy, and it was so traumatic that I refused to be in a relationship for 8 years after. I spent a great deal of time in mourning, but eventually became a cheerleader for the single life. As hard as it was to be a single mom, it was easier than the alternative: trusting someone. I soon realized I was the in the minority. Most people prefer being partnered. I didn’t. I understand now that it was probably due to the circumstances that surrounded the end of my relationship (raising a daughter alone, watching her father get married and have a baby with a new woman..etc). I had bad taste in my mouth about relationships for a LONG time. It also didn’t help that I witnessed many of my friends cheating on their girlfriends/boyfriends, and watched my own parents’ marriage dissolve into a baffling series of events (more on that later).
I generally regarded articles like this with a degree of scorn and superiority. The following statement just didn’t apply to me:
Someone with a partner would have a person to lean on during this time.
I mean.. when I was single I’d lean on my friends, and that was enough for me..99% of the time. They gave me enough support, love, acceptance and strength so I could get through my daily life. Sure, I had moments where I’d feel alone, scared, hopeless and miserable. But those moments weren’t unmanageable. I realize now that I was lucky as HELL. For some people, it’s not just about moments that pass.. It’s about EVERY DAY being made up of thousands of moments of pain and sadness.
Now that I’m coupled, I understand the luxury of having someone to lean on. My friends were amazing, but they didn’t offer the 24/7 access to comfort the way my boyfriend does. When I’m scared in the middle of the night, he’s there. He also makes it easier to deal with many things, like mentally checking in when he sees me going down a Cortisol-induced spiral. It’s incredible having someone to put a dampener on your inner voice, the one that tells you “OMG THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!”. When you’re single, you don’t have that. It’s just you on the front lines of your own mind.
But life’s not a suffering competition . Nobody’s pain is more or less valid than someone else’s. We all have feelings, and we shouldn’t try to legitimatize of someone’s pain based on what we think they’ve been through. Unfortunately, I did a lot of comparing when I was single. It was my coping mechanism. It helped me get through the struggles and sadness I felt.
Confession: It gave me comfort knowing another person might have failed, or fallen apart when I succeeded. It was a selfish, prideful, self-promoting feeling, but I indulged in it, because I was alone. Because my friends were coupled, and I didn’t have someone to learn on.
Well guess what? I’m not a rock, not a f***ing superhuman, and I’ve failed just as many times as I’ve succeeded. Being in a relationship forced me to confront my false perceptions and vulnerabilities. Being single let me build a bubble around them. My bubble needed to be popped..
But more on that later..