On single-tude and mindfulness


A while ago I wrote on Mostly Snarling about my busy poly lifestyle, and how totally awesomely I was managing it. That felt true, at the time.

I look back on it and I kind of shudder. Now, I’m single – by choice. I’m going to try to stay single for six months. I’ve been single for all of a week and a bit – not really long enough to be feeling it, but long enough to start contemplating what it might mean for my life and why I’ve made this decision.

I’ve had no shortage of partners since I was 19. I think in total I’ve had four really serious, emotionally invested relationships where I felt like I could go on to share a long-term home and maybe children with that person. While I recognise that having kids is not a part of how many people visualise their romantic relationships fruiting, it is for me. They were big deals, that drew hard on my resources and time – a process I consented to and was happy engaging in.

But I think relationships have consumed me, and so has their attached drama and mess and heartache. Managing relationships and psyches and ego and investment and dialogue…oof. That’s been the occupying force of the last ten years.

I’m aware not everyone is like this. Some people sew, and go rock climbing – they don’t have relationships or spend time talking or blogging about their relationships. I just had a realisation as I got home from work that for the last two years I’ve not managed to cultivate many hobbies outside of blogging, loving, or being with friends. Cooking and reading are things I do frequently and with great enjoyment, but that’s about it.

I have four hours on my hands before I go to bed and I’m scratching around to know what to do with the time.

And not just that; I have pretty bad trouble being alone. For ages after I left my husband I had trouble sleeping alone, and was glad I was sleeping in a borrowed single bed for ten months – that much less space to reach out into, scrabbling fingers about in the aching void for purchase on a breathing body not there. I’ve managed to master sleeping alone, now, and often find myself irritated by others sleeping in my bed.

I’m still no good at keeping a week free with no social engagements and just enjoying solitude. I find being alone a little exhausting at times. I am much, much better than I used to be, but as soon as I leave work I find people to call on the bus, and on the walk between bus stop and second job. I text people through the day to avoid being even psychically alone. I can’t bear the boredom and pressure of feeling like I’m not connecting; and as Gotye says – ‘you can’t live like this’.

So I’ve decided I’ve had my time of running around wildly; that the exploration ‘out there’ is done for now. I really have had a great time dating, loving, and rambling free. I learned so much about myself in doing so – I learned what my boundaries were, what I want and can do and give, what I have daily and long-term spoons for.

Work is consistent and I don’t have to constantly worry about money, I have a good community of friends and family in Sydney and good study prospects. Things are as settled as they could possibly hope to be in the next few years. Life is resembling the quiet sunny waters of Whiting Beach, a bay I enjoyed bobbing about in as a child with my family in Yamba, NSW. It was always calm, but surrounded by eventful things – fishing boats trawling by, a break-wall full of manic children, fighting gulls and bold herons tackling fish heaved onto rocks.

I’d like to resemble these waters more closely now, but I realise that wanting something like that takes work and not just intention. So what’s the plan, Stan?

I plan to make time to meditate regularly by attending a local drop in meditation centre. I know that sound tres cheezy and hippie/ster, but for me the concept of BEING STILL AND SHUTTING UP is by far the most challenging first step. There’s nothing wrong with a chat, but I think being addicted to engagement in lieu of meaningful time with the inside of your own skull is problematic. It is like the inverse of being a hermited person with depression; just as a lack of social contact stifles, so too does a deluge of it.

And what am I afraid of? That’s the question I’m posing to myself. What’s going to happen when I slow down, stay single, cut back on my schedule, and just learn to be alone – really alone – sometimes? Will I fall apart? Will I find chaos? Will I find an absence of thought and thus, disappointment?

Suddenly I’m filled with the excitement of the possibility of doing this alone thing; of having no responsibilities to an intimate other who may want to claim my time and the space between my ears. Suddenly I find myself day dreaming about scheduling a whole weekend, and getting on a train to Katoomba, and just wandering around with a backpack and some snacks. You know, looking at birds and stuff. And thinking.

I want to start sewing again. I want to see more of Sydney, have picnics and take photos I can’t post on the internet.

I’m prickling with wanting to know what’s next, what the outcome of this new stage of growth will be, but also knowing that isn’t the point – letting myself just focus on the week ahead and the next hour, and the next minute. The beer I’m drinking. The warm cat beside me. The cool of the perfect spring bolting in my darkening window.

Mindfulness, man. It feels pretty basic, kind of dorky, but also sweetly revolutionary.

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About laketothelight

Feminist. Tea drinker. Cat snuggler. Canadian marryer. Queer. Fat. Lover of movement. View all posts by laketothelight

One response to “On single-tude and mindfulness

  • Jenn

    I think this is such a wonderfully self-aware, reflective post. I relate to an awful lot in this – from learning to sleep alone again, to having so much time on my hands that I have the space to cultivate (and love) new hobbies and habits. Being single or spending very little time with a partner, I find, gives me so much freedom. The only thing I want to work out now, perhaps a year or so on from where you currently are in your trajectory, is how to reintegrate that time and freedom back into relationships – I don’t need to yet, but imagine it’s coming – the time when I find myself in a healthy, stable relationship that I care about very much, but where I also find myself resenting the lack of time and space to be myself – but perhaps that will all depends on what kind of partner I have and what the goals (agreed upon or assumed) of the relationship are. Ideally both should be possible, right? They don’t have to be mutually exclusive (I hope). This is my holy grail.

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