Mother

To the loved ones that have expressed their bewilderment 

With my decision to remain childless

Is the mothering ability you believe me to have

An aptitude you see that I do not

Or do you believe it my calling

Because for you

Unrequited love and unanswered effort

Seemed to spring so naturally from my untiring body?

How to Be Single: Get your own Sh*t

***This entire post is a petty party, so if this is not your thing please scroll on by to the next post for your inspirational message fix.***

While I am not a big jewelry person I do love the occasional ring. Unfortunately, all of the rings I own are either linked to a relationship or look too relationship-y for me to wear without getting the usual run of intrusive questions. So to treat myself after a particularly rough semester I searched for a good right-hand ring.

This is one of the first things I stumbled upon.

 

*rubs temples*

While I’ve written of the pressures to always look “happily single” before, this particular piece of un-married-un-parent life irks me.

I just want my own shit.

I’m tired of being marketed to as an alternative to a “normal” life. It annoys me that mass marketing packages living unmarried or childless as some sort of consolation prize to find the upside in. I want to set every list of “why being single is awesome” on fire. I do not need to counter every parent appreciation hashtag with a childless version, or every engagement photo with the patriarchal downsides of marriage. I have no interest in living life as a half of a sandwich.

My life is my choice, not an accidental crisis.

One of the things I appreciated about being in a relationship was it took a lot of pressure off me to fit everyone in for the holidays. Because it was assumed I was starting my own family, I was given freedom to start my own traditions. It was the one thing I chose to take with me back into unpartnered life as a hard line item. Why should I only be allowed to have a ritual or tradition of my choosing when I had a husband to share it with?

I want my own shit.

I just don’t want it to be the poor man’s version of a couple’s tradition.

 

 

When You’ve Eaten and You’ve Prayed but the Love Ain’t Coming

eatprayluv

This is for those of us whose story is written in frayed parchment with no cover and no happy ending.

Who have celebrated New Year’s alone on their living room floor, surrounded by kisses and confetti.

For those who have long tired of being told to hope, because “look at me! I found love and you can, too!”

For when the Love ain’t coming.

Those of us who have made meals of solitude, feasted in loneliness. For flirty happy hours. For budgets for ubers and allotments for human contact.

For those of us who have done everything right, and learned to love ourselves. For when we’ve stopped looking and just stare. For solo vacations and blessed strangers that catch our good side. For “you should be here” captions addressed to everyone and no one.

For Us that have long held our ceremonial burial for The Dream; that have started new books when closing a chapter just wasn’t enough. For our New Normal, when hope cannot outlive wombs. For those of us sick and tired of celebrating with our circle and hoping the blessing truck has one more stop left.

For those of us who no longer mourn and wish everyone else would stop asking how we can “still be so happy”. For the courage to not be ok. For the times we have died and come alive. For the end of an era. For our new beginning.

For phoenixes emerging from the ashes to discover they are the Sun. For those of us just discovering our gravitational pull. For life after death. For stories that do not end, or begin, with Him. For radical happiness because, in spite of, or however that shit comes because dammit,  WE DESERVE.

For all my mosaics, making beauty of the bits.

Shine on.

When to Fold Em, When to Walk Away

The holidays are upon us, and everyone is talking about Love.

New love, renewed love, the power of love, everyone‘s had love on the brain-and the overwhelming majority of it is romantic love. ‘Tis the season, after all. But for some, this is a season of discovering how strong self-love can be-and they learned it by letting go.

One such example is my friend Danielle, who detailed how she recently found the strength to walk away from a picture-perfect fairy-tale in her brave post “Why It’s Okay To Be Wrong: 7 Signs It Was Time To Call Off The Wedding”. For a bit of history, Danni and I became fast e-friends. We laughed over tales of dating mishaps and planned for the future as fabulous single women (I was of course still in my ‘try too hard’ LivingMyLifeLikeItsGolden single phase). Then Danni met “him”.

It was a tale I’d shared more times than I can count; the “second” you stop looking, love finds you-just look at Danielle! All seemed wonderful as she quickly became an even better version of her lovely self; she had a glow about her, she’d started writing more, she posted bikini pictures on vacation, happy with her hard-earned shape. He seemed quietly supportive of her travels and her creative endeavors. When the proposal happened, though it was quick, it was definitely not surprising. Everyone thought it fate, the natural progression of a fairy-tale.

Within the coming months things got quiet over on her end, a pop up here, a complaint of weight gain there. We made plans to hang but it never worked out, which I attributed to the business of wedding planning. Her blog posts slowed but again-weddings are a lot of work! So I thought nothing of the quiet on her end as I got bogged down with life on mine.

While her latest post was not out of left-field (it happens to the best of us) I couldn’t help but think of the times I stayed true to instincts and walked away when everything seemed perfect. Here’s three ways I knew it was time to stop fighting and walk away:

When it isn’t “fun” anymore

I once walked away from a business that seemed to align with my passions at the moment it became profitable. While all seemed well on the outside waking up to it every morning was a chore; it drained all my energy and going through the motions felt heavy. While no endeavor is going to be smooth sailing every day your commitment to your choice should make you feel light-and it hadn’t for a long time. I have a hard rule about walking away when it isn’t “fun” anymore-meaning, when I examine my core feelings about the project they no longer feel “light”-and while no one understood my choice at the time I have no regrets. In the end trusting my instincts proved to be the best choice-as less than a year later the industry declined and my biggest sponsor went out of business-a development that would have ruined me financially.

When my “whys” were all externally motivated

Most of us can relate to staying in a relationship too long-and mine was a doozy. We had one of those relationships that other people hash-tagged-we moved in unison, we finished not only each other’s sentences but each other’s jokes, and everyone who spent time with us said watching us together brought them peace. No one knew we’d been having the same argument regularly for close to a year and I hadn’t slept right in months. I’d gained weight, my skin looked terrible, I’d withdrawn from my creative projects and my friends. I’d stalled because I was taught you just don’t give up on that kind of connection-even if you’d been the only one fighting for a while. But when I looked around none of my reasons for staying had anything to do with me-it was “time”, “what would they think”, I’d look like a fool after wasting my “good years”.  Letting go was the right thing to do-even if at the time it made sense to no one but me-and the subsequent chapter of self-discovery and acceptance have hands-down been the best times of my life.

When I know I did my best, but still got a “no” from the Universe

This one has been the hardest to accept, but the most fruitful. When I decided I was going to go back to college, I had one school in mind. I compiled a portfolio, spend an untold amount of hours on the application and even enrolled in courses a la carte so they could see I was capable of maintaining a stellar GPA at their institution. My application was rejected-twice-before I decided to move on with my life and attend another school. Fast-forward a year and even with a major change I’ve managed to earn accolades every semester and my academic future has more opportunities than ever.

Walking away is never easy, and I’m not an expert so I can’t tell you what to do about the hard choices you have in your life. But what I can tell you is there is life at the other side of your choices. Just these three examples took you through ten years of my life, and I’m still here. So don’t be afraid to trust your gut and step into the unknown, even if it means walking away from a fairy-tale.

How to be Single: The Myth of Self-Care

Confession: I don’t believe in “self-care”.

In fact, I think it’s a load of bullshit. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how I got here.

There was a point in my life where I became sick of sex. This was highly inconvenient, as at the time I was involved in a relationship with a man that was born of an electric sexual connection. Sex was our glue, and when we didn’t have it, our cracks would show. But I tried like hell to make it work because I had not yet discovered the revelation called “affairs”, and at some point I was the only one trying.

And I was EXHAUSTED.

I had work. I had my side hustle. I came home and made dinner. Sex was not therapeutic. Sex was not release. Sex just felt like another chore, another person I had to become after a day full of being a worker, a counselor and a pretend housewife. One more person that wanted a piece of me. One more thing I had to do before I could see my pillow. One more thing blocking me from sleep.

What was missing?

HELP, dammit. I had no damn help.

Not one person in my life was meeting me halfway, or picking up the slack, or allowing me a moment to breathe before they requested something from me. None of the things I did were “for” me. Not even the horizontal polka. No one acknowledged that the hours in a day were not infinite and my energy was not an inexhaustible resource. My clients were my responsibility, my man was my responsibility, and I was my responsibility. And there simply were not enough hours in the day to accomplish all three.

That’s all I see when I look at conversations about “self-care”.

Not one damn thing about it sounds attractive to me. If they’re not advertising it as a way to be more efficient in servitude (“put your oxygen mask on first! You’re no good to others if you don’t take care of YOU!”), they’re heaping pressure to either make it instagrammable (no, seriously…search #SelfCare) or shaming for not engaging (“self-care checks”, anyone?). And not ONE person has yet to explain how I’m supposed to find the hours in the day for this magical “self-care” if no one else in my life is volunteering to do all the things I’m not going to get to in order to fit it in.

And who benefits?

Everyone but you.

Everyone who has been let off the hook to be supportive, to take care of themselves, to not rely on you to be everything while you are made to feel guilty for asking for crumbs (because self-care, like self-esteem, is of yo damn self, so don’t ask me for shit). Don’t believe me? Ask yourself when’s the last time you engaged in “self-care” for the sake of SELF and didn’t have to recite a mini pep-talk to get out of the guilt of doing it. Ask yourself the last time you didn’t have to reframe taking time away from others to make it sound better. Ask yourself what your “self-care” even looks like, and if you’ve chided yourself for it not being able to fit in a 1×1 picture box.

Fuck “self-care”. You ever notice there are few popular sites that recommend “self-care tips” to men outside from “get regular check-ups and try to cry every once in a while”? It’s because they call it doing you, and it is not something to apologize for. And “me” is what I do. If I’m the “only” person responsible for “taking care of me”, that time will be subtracted from everyone else. Not stolen, not borrowed, not owed, but consciously taken. Whatever you needed from me you will attend to, by yourself. Not “it will have to wait”… I’m not doing it. I’m not assigning myself delayed double-duty to “allow” the time for self-care just so I can be re-invigorated to the task of taking care of someone else.

Nothing I engage in for the sake of self-enrichment or self-preservation fits within the advertised realm of “self-care”. My self-care looks like turning down events because I’m tired. It’s considering whiskey a food group. It’s telling a man “sorry, I’m not attracted to you” instead of wasting precious minutes concocting a long, padded let-down. It’s turning down that second date. It’s selling a blouse on Poshmark so I can afford to pay for a cleaning service. It’s using “no” with a full-stop at the end. It’s turning off my phone on Saturday night and daring to not be instantly accessible. It’s answering a text at a convenient time for me instead of the convenient time for you. It’s posting a thirst trap because I was feeling myself that day, or posting myself looking a mess cause I was feeling myself that day, too. It’s everything they told me that makes a woman a selfish asshole. And I apologize for nothing.

Fuck “self-care”. That shit was a scam, anyway.

How to Be Single: DEMOLISH

I was supposed to be a wife.

I’m supposed to have a teenage daughter getting on my nerves right now.

I was supposed to be a partner.

I was supposed to laugh at the people who hadn’t figured out the key to this life thing was two people, showing up.

I was supposed to be celebrating my 10th anniversary in Rio, surrounded by the revelry of international sport.

I am not supposed to be here. Not alone.

My stages of grief seemed eternal. The hamster wheel of what was, how it should be, what it isn’t, how I am here. I mourned the loss of what was. I grieved what would not be. Tears with the patience of a hungry infant spilled clumsily into my daily activities, pockets of grief expelling themselves at the most inconvenient of moments.

Then The Dream Died. And I stopped.

I stopped. I stopped trying to make up for lost time. I stopped trying to catch up to where I would have been had my Dream not been deferred. I stopped fucking lying to myself about the source of my giving nature. I stopped identifying myself by my relationship status. I stopped believing myself a temporarily displaced wife. I stopped wondering if every man I met and liked would be the one to relieve me of my displacement. I stopped conducting myself as their temp-wife in preparation. I stopped believing everyone else was more deserving of my exquisitely transcendental love than I was. I stopped. I stopped. I did not let The Dream die. I killed her.

I don’t know when it happened. The day I killed The Dream. If I did, I’d have a fucking anniversary party.

Somewhere amidst the clouds of bereavement my soul sat up and said “this. This here. This is it. This is your life. Now get on with it.” And I saw the sun, and I took a breath, and the air was mine. I was no longer on borrowed time. My life is my own. And the possibilities endless.

****This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge. This particular word stood out. Don’t ask me if I’m gonna get to the rest of it.

#WYAOApril

How to Be Single: Give Your Energy to Women

Let’s face it; the majority of women’s lives have been cultivated around the idea that we “exist” to make men’s lives easier.

In some capacity, whether large or small you may do it, too. It may be adding “women’s touches” to the home of your male friend or relative. Or it could be identifying ways to streamline your boyfriend’s “busy” schedule so he can spend more time with you. Perhaps you introduce the man you just started dating to new foods, or take your male bestie to his first pedicure. You saw that “thing” he (didn’t even know he) needed in a store window and bought it without hesitation. It is nurture, it is concern; it is mindfulness and thoughtfulness. And most importantly, it is the ability to make such effort look “easy”.

So easy, in fact, that our lives look exasperatingly difficult in comparison. He believes himself to not be a picky eater because he’s never noticed the two of you mainly eat at restaurants where he would not have to “pick”; meanwhile our mental gymnastics to decide on an establishment that would feature things we both like has been a long-standing joke. Crammed with details and minutiae, our lives look difficult simply because there is no one present in our lives to make it “look’ easy-that’s our job.

And personally nowhere was that more apparent than in my dating life; the minute it was decided that I “liked” a guy I immediately found myself invested in his well-being, setting out to make myself “useful”. Becoming familiar with his daily process and how I could make them more efficient; finding ways to add “value”.

This realization came from the need to take a deeper inventory of how I spent my time and energy. As a single woman I was baffled as to why I was always still so tired; apart from having to tackle the adult-ing stuff alone with less time and less help, I seemed to walk in a constant state of burnout. I withdrew from meeting people as interactions were increasingly draining. Dating was laborious; I was not built for the roller-coaster of endorphin rushes and let-downs. And as I noted where I chose to place my focus it became clear that I simply had no energy or concern allotted for myself.

The act of thoughtfulness requires energy. The daily process of being mindful; being cognizant of a person’s process, their movements, spotting “needs” that could be met, all take effort. The worry when they are not present, the absorption of their problems, all take energy. And yet we are often conditioned to do this with so many people- men in particular- that we encounter, that we reserve energy on purpose. It is no mistake that women, often socialized to do this for friends, lovers and bosses, are overwhelmingly considered for support positions in the workforce. It is a learned skill mistaken for an aptitude naturally created by DNA.  And this thing, this thing I took pride in, placed my worth in-was draining me of vitality. Of life.

The refocusing of my concern was nothing short of revolutionary-even as I battled the guilt that came from intentionally not caring. But despite my guilt and fear, no one’s world crumbled from my lack of effort. To be honest, I doubt many people noticed I stopped volunteering my efforts.  And while at first, people did bristle at “no” being added to my vocabulary, they eventually went back to however they conducted their lives without my assistance-which again, didn’t make anyone’s world crumble. And while my dating calendar isn’t as full as it used to be, it is largely free of the energy-vampires I used to attract, that gravitated to my need to show my worth in service.

It is new territory, believing myself “enough” separate from my aptitude in “service”. It takes time to drown out the din of voices that say you’ll be “forever alone” because you didn’t offer to cook for a man immediately after you met. It takes time to believe yourself “worth the effort” if you do not immediately rush to make yourself useful.  But as I released the need to take every new person on, I noticed my energy improving. As I took back time I used to think on how I could add to everyone’s life simply because they were in my proximity I gave more thought to how my own life could improve. And as I gained energy back I found a newer resolve to give some of it back to the women in my life. Whether it was lending an ear, or sharing a meal, or putting in a good word, forwarding a contact, promoting someone’s work, it was a support and thoughtfulness often reserved to prove wife-ability I actively chose to reinvest in the women around me. And it has proven renewing and edifying in a way I did not receive when I simply poured energy out to prove my worth.

To be clear, I am not saying I stopped doing anything at all for the men in my life. And I’m definitely not saying I actively chose to instead over-extend myself for women. I am saying that I shut down my habit of immediately pouring effort to new connections out of fear that if I did not, they would see no reason to continue being in my life. And I then took that energy to invest in myself and the people who chose to not only stick around, but invest in me, support me, check for me. I let go of the thought that my assistance was needed to make a person’s life better-that’s quite an egotistic thought when you sit with it anyway-and allowed people to live their lives. I met people where they were-or left them where they were. And as people seasonally enter and depart, I found I was more accepting of their place in my story and forced less. What’s for me is for me, and people meant to be here do not require my essence as sacrifice.

I do realize for some this is no revolutionary conclusion, and believe me, I envy the selfish. I guess everyone is just figuring this life thing out as we go. Here’s to the journey.