Some days I feel hurt, angry, and resentful towards Zahara’s father and his family for everything they put me through. The beginning of the end of my marriage was mind-numbing at times and I had a newborn to focus on, so with what little energy and self-control I had left, I mustered the courage to put on a smile and sing songs and change diapers and breastfeed at all hours and on and on. And I loved that part of myself, the mommy who could be happy and loving with my baby. It was good for me, because I had no choice but to turn off all of the contemplation, the doubts, the whys and the maybes, and the loss of self that I felt threatening to swallow me whole. The ever-present ache that was my reaction to everything that had happened was diminished, even shockingly forgotten, when I chose to focus all my faculties on my daughter. Yes, chose, because I had every manner of means, motive, and opportunity to incapacitate, injure, or even eliminate myself but I wanted to be a mom to Zahara and that mattered more than my broken heart. (By the way, can you tell I’m a crime-show junkie from that last sentence?)
The simple act of choosing to lock up my thoughts and emotions during my mommy moments was a fake it ’till you make it experiment that turned out to help me heal. When Zahara fell asleep, my mommy mask fell off and all of the feelings I was struggling to get rid of would come pouring in and sometimes I’d start to sink into it like quicksand. But then, blessedly, I’d hear the unmistakable shifting of a little body, and the first tentative cries calling to me, asking me to please come quick and hold this warm little person against my chest. It’s not all sweet and Hallmark-appropriate with a newborn, but those first moments of wakefulness really were. And I never thought I’d be so grateful for the sounds of a sleeping baby waking up as I was in that first year. It gave me a responsibility to fulfill an unspoken promise to my daughter that I would always be there for her, that I could make us happy. So the quicksand would recede for the moment and I’d pull myself up and be a mom.
One thing this shoving aside of problems did was make me incapable of analyzing my situation. I didn’t think much so I wouldn’t feel anything, but then that meant I also couldn’t see how much better off I was. I knew that I wanted a certain kind of life for my little girl, and that included a man who treated her mother right so she would know what to expect for herself one day. I also knew whatever my life had been it was not working, but I still felt just as hurt, resentful, and angry as ever, so figuring out that I liked being single took a while. In fact, if I’m honest, I still have times when I wish I could just go back and somehow fix what went wrong. But not only can’t I go back in time, it wouldn’t have helped anyway. Just like I chose to be a good mother, Zahara’s father chose to be a bad husband.
Lately I’ve been feeling stronger and calmer, and I’ve realized that some time in the last two years and without my knowledge, I had stopped faking happiness and actually started experiencing it. I am sexy, single, and oh, so satisfied! And there are a bunch of reasons why that’s so, which I’ve decided to list so I can look back whenever the sadness creeps back in. Because, let’s be honest, no one is happy all of the time but a little self-encouragement does go a long way.
Reasons why I LOVE being single
- I don’t have to share my bed anymore! Well, I do, for half the night, with my toddler who inevitably wakes up and comes to me, but at least it’s not a huge, sweaty, comforter-hogging man who disturbs my sleep with his lust at 4 a.m. And if I ever miss the occasional arm across my waist, I’ve got sweet baby snuggles which are so much better!!
- Speaking of lust, I do not have to pretend to like it or that I want it. Yes, he knew what I wanted and sometimes it was perfect, but mostly it was sort of a job. I’m your wife and you expect me to want you so I will even when I’d rather just sleep, or read a few chapters of a good book, or eat ice cream, or watch one of those crime dramas I’m addicted to! But now, it happens on my schedule, how I like it and how long, because the only person I worry about pleasing is me.
- I cook the food I like, trying new recipes for myself. When I was married I thought it was also my job to make my husband’s tummy happy regardless of whether or not I liked the dish I made for him. Now I bookmark recipes that look interesting to me and I make them at my whim. I feel like having spicy veggies tonight? Let’s whip out the old cell phone and find something I could love. I’ve already made a ton of stuff that’s become part of my cooking staples, and if anyone wants to try them they can, but whether they like it or not my tummy’s happy and so am I.
- I can go anywhere I want without asking anyone’s permission or explaining myself at all. This, of course, includes doing whatever Zahara needs, but I am in charge of our lives and I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. I can go to Stroller Strides every day this week or take my daughter to a different toddler-friendly restaurant for lunch each time and it’s up to me. Living with my parents, I do forget sometimes and think I’m 15 again but then reality kicks back in and I realize that I’m twice that (oh dear God, insert minor nervous breakdown here) and a parent myself, so I am really the adult now! :~)
- I can write! I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so important to me I have to say it again. Somewhere along the way I lost my writer’s voice, my inner poet smothered by the life I was leading. I was uninspired and my words were inadequate. But look at me now. I am well on my way to rediscovering my passion for literary endeavors, and I’m doing a damn good job if I do say so myself.
- I can appreciate myself and critique myself constructively. I don’t have to look in the mirror and care what anyone else sees. I know that I want to lose a few more pounds to get my energy level back up, although it will sadly never be what it was pre-pregnancy! But I love how I look. I even fit into my prom dress from 12 years ago at a Halloween party last week and I was absolutely beaming. I looked and felt sexier than I had in years. And I also have started figuring out the things about my personality I love, and what might need to change (but that’s a whole other post!)
The point is that I know I like who I am and being single gave me the strength to not care who else likes it. I’m not going to hide any part of me because I don’t have to. I’m not trying to please anyone else and I’m living my life my way. And I am sexy and satisfied because of it. There are things I want to do, personal and professional goals I have, but I know I’ll accomplish them because I’ve learned how to listen to what I want and also that I can make it happen. Yes, I’m single, but I am so over being married that my single status is a source of inspiration and clarity. And more than that, it’s a way for me to be happy. What more can a single woman want?