Attending a wedding for the first time yesterday since my split from my boyfriend I was nervous of the inevitable pity and associated shaming that would accompany those words and looks from well-meaning family.
I was pleasantly surprised on two accounts. Firstly, most of my extended family (who are very traditional in the marriage and kids sense) were amazingly un-pitying, unbothered of my single status and respectful of me, some referring to my break up so as not to ignore it, but not giving me that look I so dreaded.
Secondly, and perhaps best of all was when I was asked by an older cousin of my mum the very predictable, ‘So what about you, any engagements, weddings, children on the way?’ my simple response was ‘No, I’m not really into any of that. I’m having too much fun’. Interestingly, the woman and her husband though taken aback slightly seemed to know exactly what I was referring to! One of them even said to me – just after my cousin said ‘I do’ in front of us – ‘Oh dear, funs over then!’ (a bit much, but I appreciated the sentiment).
And yet, of course its not all fun and games. I truly believe everything I write in this blog and I mean it all, but of course Im not immune to the sadness, grief and disappointment that this ideal love I had been expecting to receive has not come to pass. This is OK until you see others around you who do actually have it. Because I suppose, it does happen for some people that they fall in love and stay together. I believe I would not take most of the relationships I see around me above being single, and who knows what the future holds for anyone and how long they might stay together; but there is true love, being able to compromise so it works for both of you, and for the most part being able to give eachother what you need so it makes you both happy. I saw it yesterday in my cousin and his new wife, in my brother and his fiancée, in my sister and her boyfriend.
There may be reasons in my own life that this has so far eluded me – I wont go into those and don’t believe it matters because I am where I am and many people arrive here for a myriad of reasons – it doesn’t for one second detract from what I say about being single because I know this will ring true for many many people whatever their experiences and whatever their relationship status.
It can be painful though, and to deal with this pain I realise I have created armour inside. A few years ago I visualised this as a plate in my chest made of bone, one of incredible strength. Having gone through the last painful year and realising that the safety net I thought I would be offered as part of a romantic relationship doesn’t exist (because this isn’t part of the offer in reality – it may seem to be but I realise now its not); looking to a future where this I realise this isn’t something I can ever depend on, my armour has now galvanised into a steel cage – but importantly, one with gaps, spaces; vulnerability still easily accessed beneath it.
And yet, I am glad of this sadness. My fear was, as before that my main experience of attending a wedding would be one of shame – shame to conform, to be good enough, to succeed at being coupled off, at being married, and being good enough for someone to want to marry. The triumph is that I felt no shame – I felt sad sometimes, but mostly, proud.
I thought of my blog, and of the new perspectives that are emerging for me that I am able to share with like-minded others and I felt such pride. Oddly it felt like that feeling I had when I was in a relationship and it was going well – proud, happy, content. The quiet, bursting pride I imagine people must feel of their children.
OH, and then there’s JOY. My little sister (such a joy and one of the loves of my life), dancing with her as I was to Whitney Houston, said ‘I’m not really going for it, I want to go for it…’ ‘DO IT’ me and her boyfriend encouraged, me sweeping my arm across an empty part of the dancefloor. She literally jumped back into the space and busted her little booty out good and proper;
‘OH I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY! WITH SOMEBODY WHO LOVES ME’.
‘Me!’ I said ‘I love you!’.
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