Can you tackle this self-help notion I’ve been pondering for a while. Does anyone else feel like a lot of self-help books and well-intentioned advice still feels like pick-me dancing? Let me explain.
I left a cheater 8 years ago, and rebuilt myself and my life. Moved 3,000 miles with my cats and a few possessions. Completely started over. There is another side to the pain, and I am so glad to have found your blog to put words to what happened to me. I feel such camaraderie with everyone’s stories. I read the comments daily and can see myself all the time.
But, I’m still alone. No new love or relationship since. Most dates don’t get very far either. Feels like no one wants to be known. It’s depressing.
When I read books, blogs, etc., it ends up coming off like you’re not where you want to be, got what you want, had success in relationships, or whatever, because you’re not healed “enough” or “healed right.”
Only when you complete this healing journey will things be ok. You get the guy! The self-esteem! The karma bus! Like the reason I haven’t had a relationship in years is because I’m not healed, or I’m just still attracting toxic people, or I need to be more fun and join all these clubs, activities, go out all the time because you never know when you’ll meet someone. Put on makeup even if you’re just running out for coffee.
I’ve done a lot of healing work over the years, a therapist, gotten a better job, place to live, lost weight, and I do have an decent social life. I’m not hiding under a rock all the time. I’m proud I’ve come so far and realized what was happening to me was abuse. Yet, I am alone, and it’s getting harder to deal with every year. Is it so wrong to want my person? Maybe if I was “healed” I wouldn’t want someone? Who doesn’t want someone??
I feel like I’m pick-me dancing for the self-help bookshelf. I’m not saying healing is bad, or some of the get out there suggestions aren’t helpful, but sometimes it feels like a checklist and I don’t make the cut no matter what I do. That’s how I felt in my previous cheater relationships.
Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore
Before I launch into my Drop The Single Shame sermon, let’s just set the record straight on the messaging here.
Only when you complete this healing journey will things be ok.
Healing journey? This isn’t Goop or Elizabeth Gilbert. I have no path of enchanted yoni crystals lighting your way to the perfect square-jawed gem merchant. My advice is utterly prosaic and specific — leave a cheater, gain a life.
Things WILL be okay after you leave a cheater. Because addition by subtraction. Things improve considerably when you remove abusers from your life.
Paradoxically, you do not feel “okay” when you leave — it’s an act of bravery, of self-determination. A vote of faith in yourself. Wobbliness is to be expected. A lot of it is raw grief. But you build a new life ANYWAY. Because you must. Because abuse is unacceptable.
“Complete this healing journey” sounds like there’s a manual with boxes to tick. We “complete” our journeys when we die. At any given point in life, things will be varying shades of okay and NOT okay. How we face that depends on our courage and our resiliency, and what sort of people we surround ourselves with. My message is — you are stronger than you know, you don’t need shitty people, and the pain stops. The crushing grief, the mind movies, the sense of utter rejection — it’s finite.
Meanwhile, pets die. Parents die. That asshole will cut you off on the expressway. Strange spots may turn into cancer. Bladders will occasionally malfunction and people will hurt your feelings. Because LIFE. How do we respond? We shall adult. With fellow adults.
You get the guy!
Or you might get a puppy. Or a new job. Or some really terrific peonies. We don’t get every blessing. Be happy anyway.
Oh, that’s easy for you to say Chump Lady, from your lofty perch of matrimony.
Dude, I spent hundreds of Saturdays alone. I single parented. I went on dates with people who looked like boiled potatoes — overcooked, lumpen potatoes who rejected me. And when I tripped over an absolutely lovely man — he was from TEXAS. Which is essentially a test from God asking you How Bad Do You Want It? There are no Hallmark Christmas specials about fire ants.
Anyway, I have absolutely no idea if you will pair up. I don’t want to be smug. My opinion is, however, that if you want it and you’re open to it, and you’re okay sorting through a lot of overcooked potatoes in polo shirts — it’s out there. Just don’t ever want coupledom so bad that you’ll settle for assholes.
I think it’s much more important to build a good life for yourself, and your kids, if you have any. NOT because you’re tappity-tap-tapping your way towards worthiness, (LOOK AT MY PRETTY DANCE! PICK ME!) — but because you have honest-to-God passions in life. You don’t have any passions? WORK ON THAT.
I am deadly serious. Adopt an orphan. Organize voter registrations. Fling yourself at hand-thrown pottery. If you have love to give — GIVE IT. Channel it towards worthy outlets. First of all, loneliness is best abated with activity. Second, the best activities have purpose. Pick-me dancing for potatoes? Not so much. Work from the supposition that you’re going to die alone (actuarially speaking, as a woman, you probably will) — so what kind of life do you want?
The karma bus!
Don’t wait for the karma bus. Seriously, get on with your life. The karmic scheduler is perverse. You’ll be wasting on your energies — which could be better expended on orphans, voter registrations, and pottery — on a fuckwit. That’s a terrible epitaph.
I’ve done a lot of healing work over the years, a therapist, gotten a better job, place to live, lost weight, and I do have an decent social life. I’m not hiding under a rock all the time. I’m proud I’ve come so far and realized what was happening to me was abuse. Yet, I am alone..
Yet you still measure yourself by your single status.
Did you really get a better job to find a man? How about, you’re just out there being mighty, living a good life, accomplishing shit and you’re ENOUGH.
There isn’t an award ceremony where after you’ve completed all the requisite weight loss and self-improvement, they award you a commemorative man. Life is gifts, we don’t earn these things. Just be open. I know there are a gazillion messages to Couple Up Again and You’re Nothing Without a Man (broadcasting on TWO Hallmark holiday channels right now!) — fuck those messages. You’re enough.
Frankly, I wish someone had told me that in my 30s as a single mom. I think it might’ve inoculated me against the cheating fuckwit I later married — peddling a message that he’d take away all my unworthy, horrid single-mother-ness and complete me. By the time I was past that nightmare, and met Mr. CL, I was like “See this house? They’re PLANTING me here. See these peonies? I’m DYING next to them. See this life? It’s MINE.” I had stakes.
Don’t even consider coupling up again until you have stakes. Invest in yourself. Don’t be so quick to hand it all over to some guy so you’re not (gasp) Single.
Is it so wrong to want my person?
It’s better to BE your own person.
It’s totally okay to want a partner. But you should never want it so bad that you’ll compromise your values and accept shit. It’s also not a force you control. Investing in your best self IS a force you control.
Maybe if I was “healed” I wouldn’t want someone? Who doesn’t want someone??
I think every human who isn’t a sociopath longs for connection. I’m just saying consider all the many, many ways to connect.
Having “someone” doesn’t cure life’s ills. The Wrong Someone is a curse. (And the subject of this blog.)
I’m probably the wrong person to answer these questions, because as I am no longer single, I am suspect. There will be a bunch of comments bemoaning the State of Dating Today. And how wretched it is for women over 40, or women over 120 lbs, or women with children. And I believe you.
Yet, I’d also like to point out that I used to live on a street in small town Texas — and on the SAME STREET, I knew TWO women who had remarried in mid-life, one had four kids, the other five kids. And it was like 30 years later, and everyone was still happily married. Maybe there’s something in the water in Texas. These were ordinary women. One guy is my friend’s stepdad. The other guy is the town historian. Nice men.
The danger of pointing out these every day miracles is cries of “NOW I FEEL MORE PATHETIC! My GOD! If some plus-sized mom in 1977 could do this, WHY CAN’T I?”
Gah. I don’t know. The Karmic Scheduler is probably on a date with the New Romance scheduler and they’re unavailable for comment.
I’m not saying healing is bad, or some of the get out there suggestions aren’t helpful, but sometimes it feels like a checklist and I don’t make the cut no matter what I do. That’s how I felt in my previous cheater relationships.
It’s now time for my Drop The Single Shame sermon.
Who says you “don’t make the cut”? Do you say that? Stop it. Did some overcooked potato in a polo shirt not swipe right? Fuck him. He’s a potato.
We aren’t a match for everyone. And that’s OKAY. It takes a very weird person to love me and I had to go all the way to Texas to find him. Mr. CL labels his pens and enjoys Texas yodeling and likes to lecture me about Stephen Pinker. I’m insufferable about organic produce, I won’t allow Mr. CL to decorate the living room, and I’m indifferent to baseball. This is not everyone’s idea of bliss. I am not a potato’s pat of butter. Maybe you are not either. But someone else probably is.
My point is — rejection isn’t all about you. It may feel that way, but what it usually means is — “This isn’t a good fit.” It could be a bad fit in the Perfectly-Nice-People-With-Nothing-In-Common way, or it could mean that the guy is a vapid nitwit with a hooker habit. In either case, their rejection IS NO MEASURE OF YOUR WORTH.
Stop giving other people power to validate you. Get that from better sources (like all those voters you are registering) than dating apps. Stop feeling Less Than because you’re single. Trust me, people can sniff this out.
Would you rather be with someone because they love YOU, or because they just want a warm body?
Stop pick me dancing. For self-help gurus. For dates. For your mother. Whoever you think is judging you, just STOP.
You’re enough. Relax.