I always thought I’d be absolutely wonderful at a long distance relationship. Having been on my own for so long, I was convinced that my independent nature and propensity for solitude and low maintenance sensibility was the recipe for finding … Continue reading
Several years ago, I remember watching my friend come home to a bouquet of flowers from her boyfriend. It was a lovely surprise, all bright and purple. Her smile could not be contained. It lit up the room, illuminating the difference between us. She had someone. I did not. And in one of my most embarrassing moments, I began to cry, in front of her, over a bouquet of flowers that were not mine. Over a love that was not mine. Over something I wanted desperately for myself.
My magic number today is 24. That’s the number of years I’ve been alive. The number of years I’ve been called Cassi. The number of years I’ve been left unkissed. The number of years I’ve gone without hearing a man whisper “I love you” in my ear. The number of years I’ve gone without receiving flowers or chocolates or a love letter. The number of years I’ve been untouched. The number of years I’ve longed for romance, for passion, for a man to see me as a woman.
Twenty-four years without a man. Twenty-four years of loneliness.
As I sit here, I look back and admit there have been times when I haven’t handled my singleness well. Times when I believed myself to be less worthy, less wonderful, less womanly because there was no man in my life to say “I choose you, my love. You’re beautiful.” Because as I looked around, I saw everyone else pairing off, happily and intimately. They were moving into new worlds of love and romance and leaving me forever behind. I watched my friends moving into the worlds of dating, of matrimony, of parenthood, and wondered what was wrong with me. Something must be wrong with me, right? Otherwise, why couldn’t I find a love of my own?
Because if there was something wrong with me, then it could be fixed. It could be undone. It could be changed into something better. I could be something better. Few things in life have ruined me as much as thinking there was something I was without. To look in the mirror and wonder if you’re broken leaves you distraught and empty, feelings of worthlessness swirling around you in a haze. My days seemed dull. My nights felt lonely. My mind was a dark place, filled with what if’s and if only’s and why doesn’t he want me?
I told myself I was unlovable. And for years I believed it. Because one day that was the only thing that made sense, the only thing I could point to and say “well, this is why I’m alone.” Because men didn’t look at me and see the passionate possibilities. I wasn’t the sort of woman to intrigue a man, to make him stop and look twice. I believed I wasn’t beautiful enough or interesting enough or sexy enough. So there had to be something within me that was missing; that special piece that made a man long to chase after you and woo you.
But no – no one chased. No one wooed. No one pursued or loved.
Singleness and Loneliness became my companions. They pitied me and kept me company year after year. I took them with me everywhere I went, living under the shadow of their hulking darkness. They haunted me at every turn. They held me back and made my question myself. They whispered doubt in my ear until my mind was filled with insecurity. They covered me in shame. Somewhere along the way, I had given them power over me. I let them define me and shape me. I allowed their lies to mean something.
I’m ready to give them up now. I’m ready to let go of the lies, of the shame, of the embarrassment I felt by being the third wheel, the table for one, the spinster in the making. Because I can finally look back and see the torture I caused myself as I worried about when, dear God when would I find the One. I can see the silliness in the hours I spent wondering about the right and wrong way to go about finding the right guy, the do’s and don’t’s of love. I can see the pain I caused myself, the unkind manner with which I treated my poor, bruised heart. I can forgive myself for it now. I can take a breath and shake my head at how badly I approached the whole thing.
And I was right – I was missing something. But I wasn’t missing a man or romance or true love. That wasn’t what I truly needed.
I didn’t need to hear a man to say “I love you.” I needed to hear those words from myself. I needed to feel the love from my heart directed back at my soul. I needed to know, deep down, regardless of my relationship status, my place in life, my prospects or opportunities, I am loved. I am worthy. I am lovely and beautiful. And I am enough just as I am. I am whole. I’m not broken or missing some secret piece. I am exactly who I am supposed to be at this precise moment in my life.
Because if I can’t love myself, how can I believe anyone else could love me?
I’m ready to love, I think. I’m ready to be swept away. I believe I am meant to love deeply and fiercely with all that I am. There is room in my heart for a great love story, and strength in my soul to fight for it. I wouldn’t mind a messy love, a love that was sometimes hard. I would cherish it with all that I am, because I know what the emptiness is like. That’s the beauty of having gone twenty-four years without a hint of love – I know what it means to be without. So I can look forward and treasure every ounce of love I am allowed. I can enjoy love for what it is, rather than everything I wish it could be.
Who knows? Maybe next year, 25 will be my lucky number.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.
I read excessively and to distraction. I carry at least two books with me at any one time. Given the choice between buying groceries or that new book that just came out that I’ve been waiting for, books always win. People ask me to describe myself, and I say I’m a reader. It’s probably the most important thing that someone can know about; my defining trait, my absolute truth.
I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. The first full length novel I ever read was Little Women (and I still own that beloved copy). A few words in and I was lost; lost to the world, lost in my obsession.
It’s always the story that gets me. The characters could be absolutely delightful, but without a plot, without direction, I simply don’t care. And I have read so many books with good stories and with bad. I’ve read books that, once I get to the end, will immediately turn back to the beginning and start all over, fall in love all over. Then there are the books I wish I hadn’t laid eyes on, the ones that make you want to throw it across the room as if the bent pages and dented cover might actually do it harm. We want to punish them for the horridness we were subjected to.
There is much that I’ve learned from the stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading. But what novels have taught me probably isn’t what you’d expect. They haven’t taught me to believe in love at first sight, the perfect marriage, the final happy ever after. Nothing is ever that perfect in real life. But there are some lessons I’ve learned along the way, so I’m going to share them with you lovely people.
1. Enjoy the little things. Most of my favorite parts of a story aren’t the significant moments. Nothing terribly important is happening. But a character will say something or do something and even though its so small in the grand scheme of the story, it moves me. Those are the moments that I remember when I tell someone about the book, the moments that make me smile. We have those same moments in our own lives. There are so many things we do throughout our lives that seem insignificant. But maybe those random conversations, spontaneous outings, or split-second decisions will make up the memories that make us smile. So enjoy and make the most of them.
2. It isn’t about the love story. I read a lot (cough cough) of novels that are heavy on the romance. There is a hero who doesn’t see the loveliness of the heroine until its almost too late; or a heroine who hates the hero until he woos her with thoughtfulness and sincerity. But the best love stories aren’t even about the romance. They are about watching the characters grow into themselves and learn who they are outside the romance. It is easy for us to let love become the point of our story. But finding your significant other is only one chapter; the rest is about finding yourself. You need to know who you are alone before you can discover who you want to be with someone else. So take the time to create yourself.
3. The hard times are worth it. I’ve never read a book where something tragic didn’t happen. There is always some kind of conflict, some horrid event. Even authors who write towards a happy ending know a character isn’t real if he or she doesn’t overcome something. When the lives of the characters are all happiness and rainbows, we don’t really believe it. Something bad has to happen; we need to see the characters come through on the other side stronger than they were at the beginning. Real life works the same way. We can’t expect it not to. But the struggles we work through, the tragedies we overcome makes us into the people that we are. And what is life about if not to discover what we’re made of? All those hard times lead to new experiences. So embrace the difficulties and the hope that follows.
4. Never compromise. Books always have that one character that settled for something less. Maybe he didn’t take a risk to get what he wanted, or maybe she didn’t think she deserved it. We always feel for these characters, because their sadness is painful to see. And yet, we want to shake them and tell them they deserve to be happy and satisfied in their lives. They should never settle for less than what they deserve. And neither should you. Don’t compromise your happiness by taking something that is merely close enough. At the end of the day, you are the choices that you make, and you should never feel like you made a mistake. So go after what you want and don’t let anyone talk you out of it.
5. You never get the ending you want. Heroes and heroines always have very specific ideas about how they see their story ending. Rarely, however, does the author give them what they want. Instead, they get exactly the sort of ending they need. And usually its far better than anything the characters could have dreamt up to begin with. We know what we want in our lives. We know the direction we want our lives to take, the happy ending that we want to have. To be brutally honest… you aren’t going to get it. Nothing in life is every going to work out precisely the way you want it to. You are going to make mistakes, and the people around you aren’t going to follow your script. And by trying to make everything fit into your perfect ending, you miss out so much life. So forget about the ending, because it will never be what you imagine it will, and focus on the story that gets you there.
There you are, some of things my books have taught me. Maybe these will encourage you to pick up a book yourself. Maybe you think these are ridiculous. Either way, know that we can learn life lessons from the most common of places. And sometimes its nice to be entertained while being taught something new.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.