At the risk of alienating my coupled readers, this one goes out to my single ladies. With Valentine's Day on the horizon, it seems that matters of the heart are on everyone’s mind. I, personally, am a lover of all thing Valentine's Day. Cynics, step aside, because I love the shit out of Valentine's Day and I don’t care if it’s only a Hallmark holiday. They are ALL Hallmark holidays and in my opinion we should just pick the ones we like and get on with it. When I was a little girl, Valentine’s Day meant waking up to a pretty balloon, a stuffed animal, a little candy from my dad, beautiful handmade cards from my mom professing her love for me, special meals with special plates and all things amore. My parents frequently went out on dates during my childhood, but Valentine's Day in my memory had them home with my sister and me, eating spaghetti and meatballs like Lady and the Tramp and downing fake champagne. Throughout my solitaire adolescence and young adulthood, my love for Valentine's Day never waned despite not having a boyfriend. And after V was born, my compulsion to celebrate only got worse. So naturally, part of me gets sad when my single friends are hurting because they don’t have someone to share the holiday with. But part of me really, really empathizes on a much grander scale.
I’ve never had a boyfriend. Oh, you read that right. I am 24 years old and have never had a boyfriend. I’ve had plenty of dysfunctional forms of “friends with benefits”, or “we’re together, but just not like *together*, djyaknowwhatimean?”, and worse yet “well, I thought he was my boyfriend”. But I have never, ever had a functional, mature, and mutually loving two-party relationship. And with lots of reflection and assessment, I have diagnosed myself with an unrelenting mental illness that results in my deep affection for people who just. aren’t. buying. It’s a serious affliction that I’d like to think many other women suffer from. Now this piece isn’t about my unrequited love, because THAT my friends, is one for the books (perhaps a book). No, instead this piece is about the very real paradox that occurs as a result of being unwanted.
I am rarely at a loss for words. Seldom am I not talking, and whatever that says about my character- so be it. I love to express myself. But putting this fragile contradiction into words is difficult. Most likely because I still have a very challenging time understanding it myself, making it hard to put on paper. I love myself. I love my eyes, my lips, my body, my humor, my style. I love my daughter, my home, my family, my friends, my life. But I do not love the fact that I have never been loved. Of course I’m not talking about the love I receive daily from the aforementioned people in my life, I’m talking about romantic love.
People say, you will never find love until you love yourself. Those people have boyfriends. Boyfriends who love them. And if they don’t, they are having regular sex. One of the two. But being a single, 24 year old woman who is possibly in love with herself to a fault, I wonder, are the two mutually exclusive? Must I be single and alone to learn to completely and truly love myself before I find someone to share that love with? Because my status as single, the actual fact that I do not have someone who loves and adores me, in my mind, is a fault. It is something that makes me feel bad about myself, lesser than. Lesser than women who do. I know plenty of women who admonish me for saying that, but if I can’t tell the truth here, what’s the point? Sometimes it desperately hurts my heart. I am completely capable of being alone, fluent in fact. I just don’t want to be and there’s a difference. There’s a difference*.
So ladies, my question to you is this: when I stand at the crossroads of my self-love and self-doubt (and honestly, perhaps a more accurate edit should be self-pity) how do I feel good about a product no one is buying? Not buying in the literal sense, of course. As one might consider themselves "the total package", how do I pacify the emotions that come from remaining shelved? How do I unfailingly say, “I’m so special, I’m so unique, I’m flawless, I'm incredible” if only me and my loved ones agree? Is there something to be said for subjectivity? And I do feel that way about myself, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t cracks… and sometimes chasms between my words of affirmation and my heart’s desire. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers. Sorry to everyone who just read this in hopes of some knowledge because y’all balls are gonna be blue. What I will say is that when I feel the waves of inadequacy coming on, it’s best to feel my feels, but try not to dwell on them for too long. Let yourself cry, or pout, or write it down, but then go take a yoga class, or blast some Beyoncé, or buy yourself a new damn pair of shoes. Do not wallow in ice cream, you will undoubtedly feel worse. Do put on a sassy outfit and remind yourself you’re beautiful, because you are. Do not resent your friends who are in love because resentment is a disease that spreads and plagues like wildfire. Most of all, do keep your standards high. The only thing worse than staying single would be entering into a relationship that isn't going to fulfill you the way you deserve. Remember that these moments of doubts are just that- momentary and human. And also, remember that Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate all the different kinds of love in your life, and with that, happy Valentine’s Day to you.
*Heather Mooney has my heart forever.