I’ve been intentionally single for 2 years & it’s the best gift I could give myself in a patriarchal world
It’s devastating to think that I used to live my life wanting to be in the company of another person just to avoid feelings of insecurity.
In less than a week, I will have been intentionally single for two years. My last relationship lasted almost three years and contained elements of abuse and toxicity that left me both traumatized and pessimistic about the future in regards to relationships. When things ended, I promised myself time for me and only for me. Time to grow and learn myself for me and not for the purposes of anyone else.
This period has taught me what I like and dislike and will tolerate. It has shown me what I’m capable of doing and being and that I am worthy of all that I desire and more.
At 3:00am two years ago I was in a hospital bed with with a snot-filled nose and tears blurring my vision. It was after the last fight, although I didn’t know it was the last at the time. The details behind this hospital visit are too painful to recall so I won’t, but at that moment I promised myself time to figure this shit, my shit, out. I gave myself permission to be intentionally single for the sake of me-search — something that was necessary and long overdue.
It took weeks for me to even know where to begin. I didn’t want to look at myself or entertain the idea of commitment. Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game” played on heavy rotation in conjunction with the internal “demon dialogue” I was having. I asked myself, “Would you date you?” and I couldn’t answer.
Maybe it was the depression, the anxiety, the PTSD or a combination of the three that had me avoidant of the complexities behind the end of my relationship. Even though I wanted to start putting myself back together, I knew self-reflection, honesty, and compassion were going to be necessary for this to work.
I released fear and asked myself, “What are you like in a relationship?” My answer back was: “I give too much, ask for too little, and get upset when someone isn’t matching my investment.” That’s where it started, and I continued from there.
What followed was coming to recognize my faults and downfalls. Conflict was at the source of most of my previous relationships. I was beginning to realize that I had never seen or heard a healthy disagreement growing up. Being brought up Baptist, I was encouraged to submit to men, not argue with them, and to let them lead.
I heard about and sometimes witnessed people “work through” conflict by yelling, calling each other names, or physically fighting and eventually making up. That was the worldview I was pulling from and it was failing me. It would make for toxic situations and cycles that were hard to navigate. Stepping back helped me realize that conflict shouldn’t include verbal, mental, physical, or emotional abuse with the excuse(s) of trauma(s) from upbringing, past relationships, and other experiences. I had become too comfortable and complacent in my wrongs by blaming others and making excuses instead of taking a hard look at myself and finding active ways to change my behavior, and by doing so changing how I felt about myself as well.
Placing my value and worth in the hands of someone else was dangerous and unhealthy and rooted in heteronormative and patriarchal culture, and yet I had allowed it to consume me. I stayed hopping in and out of relationships just to say “look at all that I am and I have a person who loves me.” That wasn’t fair to me nor was it healthy.
The decision to practice being a single person came from the simple fact that, at the time, I knew it frightened me. The thought of singlehood had always meant that something was wrong with me because no one was interested in committing, and the inquisitive mind wanted to know why. Thinking critically made me realize that I wasn’t scared of being alone as much as terrified of being lonely and not celebrating my own company.
It’s devastating to think that I used to live my life wanting to be in the company of another person just to avoid feelings of insecurity directly related to how I was socialized to view my worth. I was losing myself in people for the sake of commitment.
Singledom used to scare me not because I feared dying alone, but because I feared coming to terms with who I am — the good, the bad, and the in between. When I was finally honest with myself about this, I no longer felt the need to lie to anyone else about it.
Often times in dialogues about dating, people will say you need to love yourself before you can ever truly love someone else. But what good is loving yourself when you refuse to tell yourself the truth — your truth? Yes, loving yourself is important, but so is being compassionately honest with yourself.
Forming a bond with myself has helped me heal. Practicing vulnerability and allowing myself to feel all the emotions that I tend to avoid like anger, hurt, love, fear and sadness has made my spirit fuller. I’m thankful for the time I took to work through my shit, alone, with minimal to no harm to others. This by far has to be the best part, ‘cuz ain’t nothing like learning who you are without it being at the expense of someone else. I fucked up enough in past relationships to know that having someone learn at my expense ain’t it, and neither is me doing the same towards someone.
While I know for certain I am not finished with this journey, for the first time in almost two years, I can say that I’m ready to no longer be intentionally single. I’m ready to put my whole self back into the universe of intimacy and potential commitment with other beings. My only hope is that I’ll be received with open arms by people worthy of the person I’m becoming.
Tynesha is a strong-willed higher education professional in the DMV with a passion for social justice. Born and raised in North Carolina, Tynesha is true to southern roots. Tynesha has a B.S. in Human Development and a Master of Education. Tynesha’s interests include watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, singing, painting, traveling, and writing.