New Year’s was never a big deal when I was married. Maybe a casual get together at a friend’s house, or a night out for dinner and home well before midnight if a babysitter was available. But somehow post divorce, it’s become ‘a thing’. Another determining factor of singledom is not having anyone special to ring in the new year with. Suddenly, the days leading up to it are anxiety producing. You become obsessed with the dating apps in hopes of meeting someone and you’re doing the math … “ok if I match with this guy today and then we go out tomorrow and get in a couple more dates before New Years then I’ll have myself a date!”
But as December 31st looms closer, you realize this isn’t going to happen, and a sense of ‘woe is me’ befalls. “Of course I would be alone tonight”; “Naturally the only people to hang with are Ben and Jerry.”;“The only thing touching my lips tonight is blistex and a toddler.”. Then the mindshift begins and you say, “No.. I am not letting my lack of romantic involvement define me – I am a strong, independent woman and I am above that!”
The truth of it all falls somewhere between the self-victimization and the Beyonce soliloquy. Neither are true in isolation but together they paint the portrait of the soul’s desire for acceptance and love – a person’s desire to fit in to society’s norms and dictates. I can outline all the clichés we’ve all heard before: Alone doesn’t mean lonely; love yourself so others can love you – blah, blah, blah, eyeroll, eyeroll, eyeroll. But like the dichotomy of self-pity and independence, this too is a dichotomous relationship – the work towards self love and acceptance on one hand and on the other hand, the yearning for true, eternal and external love.
In Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***’, he outlines his theory called Manson’s Law of Avoidance. He says the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it. Manson outlines the comforts of knowing how you fit into the world and how anything that threatens that view, even for the better, is inherently feared. Post divorce, the idea of being alone and falling into the comforts and contentment of single life, defies the self-produced image to be capable and deserving of love. It is frightening and feared because it threatens the image of us as part of a healthy, loving couple. It forces you to find your place alone in a couple obsessed world and forces you to un-know yourself as part of a couple.
Manson outlines the Buddhist view on ‘you,’ which argues it is a mental, societal construct that only boxes us in to what we think we are, rather than what we can be. We think we are meant to be part of a couple becuase to not be is to undeserving of love but what can we be if we let go of that idea? We can be whomever we choose to be; we can single forever because that’s our choice, we can be part of a couple knowing we are worthy of love because we have given it to ourselves and that is also our choice.
I know, what you’re all thinking…. “damn, this woman is smart,” and I would like to agree with you but then I would also have to agree that knowing myself as ‘smart’ limits me and boxes me in to constantly needing to learn more and to having experiences that may threaten my persona of smart. (See what I just did there??)
Bottom line…..you’re alone New Years and it kinda sucks but maybe instead of thinking, “If I had someone I’d be happy and ‘found’” maybe consider being ok with being a little ‘lost’ and unknown. Maybe it’s not about finding ourselves and that special someone but maybe it’s about unknowing ourselves and who we think we need to be and should be. At least when you’re lost, your search is never over – you keep going and pushing. The fear in being found is complacency. As Benjamin E Mays says in response to a quick Google search for ‘complacency quotes,’ “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.
I know this much, I may not be kissing anyone this New Year’s but at least I know I’m not kissing the wrong person just for the sake of kissing anyone at all. And for today, for the me who is a little lost and a little found, that’s ok.