Twelve years, five months and 22 days ago I quit smoking.
It wasn’t easy. I had to endure wave upon wave of cravings. I felt squirmy and uncomfortable – like I needed something, anything to subdue the anxiousness inside of me.
Lately, I’ve had that feeling again, except this time it’s not for nicotine.
It’s for love.
I am a single person desperately trying to remain single.
The problem is I keep falling in love.
This sounds backwards, I know. After all, most single people want to find love. I want that too – eventually.
Right now, however, I need to find out who I am without it. Unfortunately, this seems to go against my very nature.
I’ve always been boy crazy. From the time I was 16 until now, I haven’t gone more than seven months without latching onto some guy or another. Sometimes I refused to admit that I was in a relationship – as in the string of relationships I had with “roommates” in my 20s – guys I lived with, subsequently slept with and in moments of drunkenness confessed my love for despite not wanting to actually date them.
Other times, we made it official. When I met my last husband, I had just broken up with someone and was determined to be on my own for at least a year – so determined that I refused to label what we had as a relationship for the first 12 months we were together.
Love eventually won that round but on and off throughout my marriage I fantasized about life on the solo side, as I’m sure most people in long-term committed relationships do.
Then, last year, we separated and I actually was single. And so, knowing that this time, I really, really, really had to stay single, I almost immediately jumped into one of the most romantic relationships of my life – only to break it off five months later because, guess what? I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. And now it’s happening again. I’ve started falling in love with another, wonderful person.
Except this time, I’ve stopped myself – because I’m seeing a pattern emerging.
It’s like that poem about walking down the street and falling into the same hole repeatedly. This time, I see the hole and I’m walking around it.
Someday, I hope I’ll be able to walk down a different street.
But change isn’t easy.
And I am squirming because it’s really hard to not think about him, or check his facebook status, or to text him or call.
And I am squirming, because I know that distracting myself with OkCupid and Plenty of Fish and all those other sites isn’t going to help right now.
And I’m squirming because, despite this sometimes unbearable loneliness – I know that being truly on my own is a rite of passage that I must go through and that there is something on the other side that is calling to me in the dark.
And that’s why it’s all the more important that I do it. Which isn’t to say I’m not going to flirt (that would be ridiculous!). I’m just not going to date… or have sex. Even with friends. Even with that guy.And this is what I’m learning: that despite all my talk about needing to be single, I actually suck at it.
And that why I’m giving up on love for the rest of 2014 – to give myself some time to feel what I need to feel and to learn how to not feel bored or unloved or undesirable or unvalued without a man in my life.
I am going to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
And, I am going to let this discomfort teach me.
It may take longer than four months or it may take less. I don’t know how long the tunnel is or what’s in it. I only know that I need to enter it.
When I quit smoking I gained 20 pounds in a month.
This time, I’m hoping this time to gain something else. Me.