Missing the single life
The other day I got a bit 'weird'.
The thing is, OK, confession, I have some pretty gnarly depression and, if left untreated for even 24 hours, it's like I'm made of glass.
It brought about a thought that I wouldn't normally entertain. For those that live with depression, thinking the worst isn't exactly new. Occasionally I need a slap in the face to remind me of how lucky I am and how I have NOTHING to complain about.
However, being in a long-term relationship can sometimes require a jolt of reality to realise how well (or not) your choices have been.
I am a BIG fan of pros and cons lists.
We recently did one after a light-hearted (re: totally serious) chat about having rugrats.
The con list kind of won, mainly as we love sleeping, having two fulltime incomes, we panic when the other cries (let alone a child) and I always have to eat soft cheese and prawns when the opportunity presents itself.
And this week? All those harrowing first day at school Facebook updates made me just want to keep my ovums to myself and his swimmers in his boxers.
The pro list had one thing on it - it had to look after us when we're decrepit (and it had to be cute).
Talk about risky business.
I started thinking about my life as a 20-something. I was pretty much single the whole time; I think the longest time I was with anyone was 18 months to 2 years - at a stretch. With lots of break-ups to keep it interesting.
It started to crowd my thoughts to the point where I stopped dead in the middle of watching 'Judge Judy'...
Was I missing my single life?
Let me rephrase that.
Was I mourning my single life?
The Mister wouldn't understand this foot-loose-and-fancy-freedom 'single life', he was a serial monogamist. Although he was a dating late-bloomer, once he got going he was never without a girlfriend and has never been dumped.
It was like thinking about an ex. You mistake your entire relationship with the highlights reel. You start to feel sorry for yourself. You turn the computer on. You log in to Facebook. You punch in your ex's name. You start to conjure up ways of getting around his privacy settings. Then you realise what you're doing looks really dodgy. You turn off the computer.
I told The Mister about this recently (the reason why we can is that our relationship, no matter how pissed off we are with each other, is NEVER on the table, it's NEVER at risk of being threatened by simply bringing up behaviour that's normal, flawed and human).
In my funk, I just simply came out with it: 'I think I'm aching for my single life, I'm really sorry, but I can't seem to help it'.
'I'll never have another first clumsy, passion-filled kiss, first nausea-inducing phone call, first heart-pounding date, first thrill of holding hands, first sexy party with anyone else again. I'm just really sad about that.'
He looked at me like I was describing an episode of 'Party of Five'. I, naturally, was the twitchy Julia Salinger.
Then he said something really matter-of-fact.
'Well, you'll never get dumped again.'
What he just said to me was what my favourite columnist, Dan Savage, has been saying for years. Ultimately, every relationship we get into will end - until we're in one that doesn't.
And then I read this the other day...
By the time most of us are in our thirties we're covered in smudges of old loves and while they fade with time, they never vanish entirely. And while that process can be exquisitely painful - and it is, dear god it really is - who wants to see out their days unspoilt and pristine? Like a good pair of boots, you want your life to be properly lived-in before giving it up.
Word to that.
The trouble is, in these moments, it's just a case of where the greenest grass is. So how do you reconcile this with yourself?
You can always make a list.
Pro - You can play pash-n-dash whenever you like.
Con - Your singledom becomes a topic of conversation whether you like it or not.
Pro - You can listen to whatever music you like, without headphones.
Con - You have weird conversations with yourself that are usually titled 'What is wrong with me?'
Pro - No one really has to know where you were last night.
Con - After you divvy-up all the jobs that need doing around the house, it hits you that you have to do them all anyway.
Pro - While you're getting ready to go out, you get a glittery feeling that you're about to meet someone.
Pro - Booking up an entire weekend with dates from RSVP.com
Con - Getting to Sunday afternoon and feeling disenchanted with the quality of dates from RSVP.com
Pro - Eating ice-cream for dinner.
Con - Eating ice-cream for dinner.
Pro - Having lots of time for your mates that are boys.
Con - People seeing you out with one of these boys and thinking you're on a legit date.
Pro - Having lots of time for your mates that are girls.
Con - Your Nan saying in front of everyone at Christmas lunch that it would be OK if you were gay.
Con - Watching 'Bridget Jones' for the xxxth time and saying 'Oh god, that's me', every 14 seconds.
But one of the best things about French-kissing my single life goodbye (yes, three months after I got married, I really should've reconciled this MUCH earlier but I have been quite busy) is never having to deal with the bull of having your whole relationship threatened during a disagreement.
If you know that your relationship is completely off the table, there is a sense of safety and a fairness of play. That no matter what you have to say to each other, your relationship can't be used as ammunition.
I think I will always have these moments every so often. My pro and con mind will always want to weigh it all up and try to make sense of it all. And as much as I'm afraid that it may hurt The Mister's heart from time to time, he realises that I sometimes need to shake the cage.
As for those first dazzling days of meeting someone new... the thing is, as I don't believe in The One concept, I still meet those people that make me go awkward and blushy. Flirtationships are great reminders that you're not a complete plank of wood.
My past relationship boots are heavy, well-worn and dirty, so I keep them outside most of the time.
Occasionally, I'll go out there and try them on again, just to see if they still fit.
But I never forget there is another pair of shoes waiting for me inside.
And, while they too are smudged and imperfect, they fit my little hoofs perfectly.
- Pippa blogs at The Wry Bride.
- Daily Life