I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day regardless of my relationship status. None of my coupled Valentine’s Days were particularly stellar, so I almost prefer the freedom of being unattached on the Day of Love. There’s no pressure or expectations either on or from me. I can just have fun being a Valentine elf to my friends and family, and celebrate the abundant non-romantic love in my life.
So I was surprised in January when Valentine date recommendations and chatter on social media made me cry – more than once. When I realized I was actively dreading the day and wanted to hide in a cave until it was all over. I’m not that girl. But apparently, this year, I am.
I have been single for nearly five years. I mean single single. After my divorce, I didn’t even want to think about dating for at least a year – I was too heartbroken and exhausted. But I had faith that whenever I was back on my feet, God would restore the years the locusts had eaten. I had worked hard for so long to honor Him in a lonely marriage. Everyone told me I had done well. I knew that despite the end result, I was made for partnership, and had a deep capacity for love and a lot to give someone. I know it still. I was confident God wouldn’t let that go to waste. More than that, I was confident He had something so much better in store for me. He wouldn’t leave me sitting in the blackest of romantic ashes. He would bring an amazing man into my life and redeem the whole shebang. It was the only possible way the story could end.
Since then, I’ve watched countless other people get divorced and remarried, or otherwise go from meeting to marriage, in less time than it took me to go on one date. Only recently have I been blessed even with real male friends (for whom I’m thankful). For the most part, I’ve been kept at a cootie-safe distance by the majority of single men I’ve known, and indiscriminately hunted down by many of the others. Disappointing doesn’t even begin to cover it. Nor bewildering. Sure, I’m a mess in some areas like everyone else, and my looks are never going to stop traffic. But I’m a smart, fun, independent, sports-literate, self-aware Christian woman in the best shape of her life. I don’t understand why I am so obviously and decisively Not Girlfriend Material.
What hurts the most is that I want such simple things. I don’t want to be married tomorrow – I just want to be asked out on a real date by someone who gives me butterflies. I want to feel special and chosen and also safe. I want the fun and excitement of getting to know an interesting man who thinks I’m interesting too. I want to kiss someone I really want to kiss, even if it only happens once. I want the luxury of enough time to let my guard down, to make educated decisions. I want the freedom to feel my feelings openly instead of trying to smother them. I don’t feel like these are overly demanding requests.
What hurts the most is that I’m a healed, whole individual, but I still lack the healing that only good relationship experiences can bring. Love gave me some wounds that only love can bind up.
What hurts the most is that after five years, my ex-husband’s opinion still stands as man’s last verdict on my worthiness. The good women in my life can tell me all day long that I’m enough. I can tell it to myself. I can believe it. But none of it can silence the little voice saying, See, no one you would want will ever want you. How much more proof do you need? If I’m not enough at my best for a good man to see and choose me, am I enough, really? If I fall in the forest and no one’s around, do I make a sound?
I know better than anyone that it’s better to be single than unhappily coupled. But it’s devastating to think that those are my only options. I will always need lots of different relationships and people; I don’t expect any one person to be my all in all. I’m starting to feel hopeful and happy about where my life is going in general. I know I can survive however things play out.
But I am sure in my soul that I’m not “called to singleness.” I’ll always have a phantom limb. The instinct to love the right partner with everything I am, and the desire to be loved back, and the knowledge of how good that could be, will always be pent up in my bones. I have no promises or evidence that I’ll ever have the chance again, and after almost half a decade, I’m ready to stand up and say: It’s not okay. I’m not okay. It will never be okay.
That’s where I’m at this Valentine’s Day.
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in love, one word: enough, singleness