It’s been one year since the break up, since the Ex and I took a long hard look at one another and bravely admitted that our relationship no longer worked. We spent an uncomfortable month living in the same apartment, sharing a bed and too many drinks in this weird nebulous state of obliged detached attachment. And then we were free.
I walked away bursting with a restored sense of romance and energy that months stuck in a failing relationship dampened. As we all know by now, I fully expected that it was only a matter of time until I met Future Husband during a meet-cute scene that would make Meg Ryan herself wish she were lucky enough to experience love like that.
Well, I’m not any closer to that vineyard wedding and the matching set of his and his Subarus than I was a year ago. I’m still as single as a slice of Kraft. But the thing is, I kinda love it. Like a lot. Which is utterly shocking. This whole year of freedom has illuminated things about myself I never was able to see before, good and bad.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the person I was when I met the Ex. I moved to Philly shortly I graduating college having no job, no real plan and my friend group was basically my roommates. I was utterly incomplete. So in that emptiness, I was grasping at anything that would fill me. (Insert dirty sex joke here.)
Enter the Ex. He knew the city, had lovely friends, a killer job and for what it’s worth, always paid for dinner. Those first few months were intoxicating because I finally found something that made me feel special.
And no it wasn’t just the emptiness that he filled. All of my life, I had placed romantic love on top of my list of priorities even when I didn’t have it. Maybe you’ve picked up on this by now, but I can be intense. I bring a certain “all or nothing” energy that screams, “Because I’m interested, I will be single-mindedly focused on you. Whatever you need, potential suitor, I’ll give. Call me Effie White, because you’re gonna love me.”
The Ex was the first guy ever (and maybe ever again) to effortlessly pick up the intensity I was putting down. So our relationship took off quicker than it probably should have and we reached milestones a bit premature and we moved in before we were actually ready to. But damnit it was love and it was mine.
As time went on, I eventually found a job that was greater than anything I could have imagined and developed friendships that meant more to me than any relationship I’ve ever had. By the end, I didn’t need him any more and I’m not sure he ever needed me.
On Fourth of July weekend, 2013, I declared my independence. (For the record: it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.)
Since then I’ve maintained a healthy dating life. Much of which has been captured on this blog (and much of which will stay with me because if Titanic taught us anything, it’s that a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.) Some guys were great, some god-awful. Through it I’ve made new close friends and sworn enemies. It’s all been like a wonderfully tawdry season of 90’s Melrose Place. And like a smutty evening network drama, I was obsessed.
When I’m elderly and my grandchildren have gathered around and I force them to look through my old photo albums or whatever Facebook has created for the purposes of chronicling our every move, I’ll be amazed by what I have accomplished this year. I’m not one to brag, but from July 2013- July 2014 I killed it all day every day. In this year, I have blossomed into the person I always hoped I would be.
But, and this pains me to admit, as a byproduct of my obsession, there was never a moment, even through all the successes and victories, that I wasn’t on some level lamenting some boy or lack thereof. And that sucks a big bag of dicks.
I’ve treated Love this year like I was that same scared 22 year old with nothing else going for him. I’d go on a few dates with a boy and suddenly I couldn’t think about anything else. I’d check my phone incessantly, post on Facebook desperately hoping to score a like, and would be trying to schedule the next date before we even had the main course. Love was distracting me from the abounding joy. Every time it invariably didn’t work out, it crushed me.
All of this led me to one shocking conclusion: Love, romantic love, has never made me happy. The rare moments of happiness I have experienced were simply punctuation marks in an endless Dickens-esque run-on sentence of anxious misery. It was the worst of times, it was the shittiest of times and once in awhile it was a’ight.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve not turned into not some cynic certain that Love is pile of rotten garbage. Obviously not. I’m still the same hopeful romantic who believes Love is the greatest thing humans can express and share. I’m literally listening to my favorite Love Song playlist as I write this.
But I was explaining this to my dear friend the other day and he aptly pointed out that it’s an important moment when we realize we have all the love we need. I’m very fortunate in that way. I am surrounded by so many people whom I love and love me back that sometimes I don’t know what to do with all of the feelings.
My skewed priorities insisted though that in order to really feel whole I needed some man to fill this specific role. Despite all the truly wonderful things I had, I still felt like I was missing something important. I consistently clawed and scraped at any chance to find Love, focusing so much of my attention on it as if knowing one person loving me in a romantically inclined way proved unequivocally my worth or value or whatever thing I hoped it would do.
I’m no longer at the point in my life where I’m a naïve lost little boy looking for some one to hold his hand and guide him through the world. I’m a grown ass self possessed man with literally everything to offer (except riches#artistlife.) I’ve learned only recently that I don’t need to surrender all of my goodies for the first pair of cute eyes who gives me a sweet look. Today I’m Scandal‘s Olivia Pope and Love is Fitz trying to get back with me whenever it’s convenient but I’m walking up to the White House looking incredible shouting back, “If you want me, earn me,” loud enough to ensure the secret service agent in the hall way heard it so I know it’s recorded forever on a formal government document.
A year later and I am making another declaration of personal independence. For I see now that being single I am complete. No longer will I bend my desires or compromise myself for the sake of any silly boy. Farewell to the tyranny of romantic Love. God Bless America.
And so I leave you with this: When you’re ready for me Future Husband, when you think you’re worthy, I’ll be here having a wonderful time eager to see how you’re going to contribute and share in my joy. You still have my number.