This is for all the single people out there
I must admit, I hate those kind of radio stations…the lovey smarmy ones. I really hope I don’t come across like one of those disc jockeys. It’s especially tough if you’re single.
You may already know that I talk about the tough topics that no one wants to talk about: shame, addiction, eating disorders, sexual assault, drugs, alcohol. You know, the fun stuff. Plus, I bring humor into it because I have to. Comedy helped me heal. Musical comedy helped me stay alive growing up, seriously.
When I fell into stand up comedy, it helped me tremendously with my recovery on many levels.
Today, in the “love” month of February, I want to talk about how our culture shames single people. That’s why I believe we should use Valentine’s Day to celebrate any kind of love: friendships, health, teachers, pets, causes, charities, communities.
Valentine’s Day can be about more than just romantic love and so often the “love” that is portrayed in the media is not real. It’s made up, and pretty dysfunctional. Have you listened to love songs…to the actual words? It’s kind of funny and also frightening that as a girl growing up and singing the lyrics, I was setting myself up for a lot of therapy about my relationships with men.
Celebrate Being Single
So I’ve never been married and I am a straight woman. I’ve been engaged twice and I’ve been asked a few times, but, for many reasons, I’ve never actually gone down the aisle.
And I cannot tell you how many people have freaked out about that fact. It’s really bothered many people that I’ve never married. I’ve had guys come up to me after gigs saying: “What’s wrong with you? Are you gay?”
I’ve had men shame me at restaurants for not wanting children. “Oh, you need to have kids. You gotta have kids. What’s wrong with you?” I think they were just trying to help in their own way. I’ve had women insist on fixing me up with people who were way older or younger than me, even when they didn’t ask me if I wanted to be fixed up.
Funnily enough, I’m fine with all of it. It’s all comedy fodder for my act, but I’m writing because I see this happen to other women and men too.
Marriage is cool. I’m open to trying it maybe, some day. Romance and love are cool too, especially when they are with two healthy happy people. I just didn’t see much of that modeled growing up in my alcoholic family.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s ok to be single. It’s ok for other people to be single. Give people space. It can be a beautiful, special time to find out who you really are.
My whole life, I got a lot of mixed messages from my stepmom: “You’ll never be able to take care of yourself. You better find a rich man. You think money grows on trees. Now let’s go shopping.”
I tried to date rich men, but it never worked out. I got into the habit of always having a boyfriend. And I felt validated if I had a man. Somehow, even if the rest of my life wasn’t going well, having a boyfriend seemed to make it all right. It made me ok with me. Maybe I was trying to prove something to my stepmom: See, I am lovable. Someone loves me.
Be Single for 3 Months?!
So imagine my distress when one of my mentors told me that I needed to be single for 3 months.
3 months! Are you kidding? I can’t do that? I have to have a man. I’m in my 40’s. I’m learning how to be a cougar or a puma or whatever the thing is now.
After several other conversations, I realized he was right. I’d given up cocaine, drinking, drugs even Doritos. I could at least try to give up men.
It was hard at first. I like flirting and feeling desired. And I loved the distraction. It felt empty and awkward and uncomfortable. But I kept trucking along.
I went to my workouts and my 12-step meetings. I kept on working with my therapist. I started doing more volunteer work. It gave me more time to work on my writing. I was finishing more projects around my house.
Something else happened that I’d never even thought about before: I deepened my friendships with my female friends.
Wow. That was amazing. With those friendships I had become even richer. I was more present for people. I went on vacation with my sister and her family. I became a better aunt.
Before I knew it, I’d been single for a year and a half. And somehow, along the way, I’d fallen in love with me. It was a miracle, but I’d also fallen in love with being single.
I was able to do some work on myself that was just not possible to do when I was in a relationship. And then, sure enough, when I was not looking…I met the man of my dreams in a very random way. That’s another blog for another day (coming soon, I promise).
My point is this, dear reader: It’s actually really awesome being single. To date yourself is powerful. To deepen the friendships you want to grow and to let go of the ones you don’t. It’s great to celebrate all the love you already have in your life.
When people try to keep fixing you up or asking what’s wrong with you, maybe they’re actually jealous of your freedom and how cool you are to be independent.