I am an artist (a freelance writer, blogger, awkward lady…yada yada), living alone with PTSD and I have only ever been in one serious relationship. I was in high school; he was a senior and we talked back and forth almost every day, until we settled in the sweet, comfortable space that we called Love. I never really had a problem with the distance in our relationship, because I liked how crazy-happy it made me to see him each time he came to my city or I travelled to his. It was three years of trips, kisses, photographs and memories – until I decided to end it. See, that is the thing about my mental illness – it makes me a person that’s hard to deal with, even to myself.
My anxiety and depression made me so unhappy, that I just could not function in a fulfilling relationship. There was always not enough attention; not enough happiness, texts, love — not enough rationality. So here I was, endlessly swiping left on Tinder, chaotic, living by myself and most days, eating takeout for one. I had trusted the idea of being friends with him after the breakup (self-sabotaging much?) and so I knew that he had been seeing someone, and was considering marriage.
Now when I first pictured him getting married, I cried. Not because I am still in love with him (that would be an ideal movie situation), but because I realised how pungently single I was. Isn’t that the worst? I instantly pictured myself lying on my couch in an oversized T-shirt, eating ice-cream at five AM, binge watching the Sherlock series on Netflix and crying at scenes that aren’t emotional for THE REST OF MY LIFE! And then I thought — Wait a minute… I don’t have Netflix. I don’t even like ice-cream that much, or binge watching TV shows. Then why was I imagining a life that isn’t even my own? That’s when it clicked — I am living in an illusion created by society. And maybe you are too.
What to do when your ex is considering marriage and you’re living alone eating takeout for one —
Who are you without the memes, “relatable” posts and coping mechanisms? The honest, natural you that exists behind your fear of judgement — Do you know that person? I believe, we have been taught that not having a romantic relationship, or to be by ourselves is the wrong thing to do, for so long that it seems unreal to consider that, that’s exactly what we need. Take the time to feel comfortable in your company, at a restaurant ordering coffee for one and taking care of the wonderfully simple but multifaceted person that you are. How crazy does it sound to go watch a movie by yourself?! Do it!
Repeat the word ‘Marriage’ over again
Marriage. Marriage. Ma-reg, May…ri…áge?
Say it until it loses all meaning. I personally have never understood the pressure and hype that comes with the idea of marriage. I in no way am against the concept. I feel it’s beautiful when two people are so intertwined that they cannot imagine a life without each other, and choose to declare and celebrate the kind of love that they share. But marriage is in no way a gateway to eternal happiness. One thing I learned about happiness is that it’s always a bad idea to look for it anywhere else that your own self. It would take a long, cringe-worthy night to list all the things I have done and people I have dated in search for contentment. In the end, I have only stayed happy in a situation when I walked in it with happiness already realised in my heart.
Ask yourself — What have I not done yet?
You have a task — You need to try and experience every little and big thing that you can manage. Have you never tried almond milk? Never ridden a bicycle, eaten an oyster, tried to go vegan, gone on a solo trip, been out of the country? Every day can be an adventure if you make it. Practice self-love, vulnerability, drinking more water in a day and maybe buying more vibrant socks! There is so much to look forward to if you let go of judgement and embrace your curiosity.
Ask yourself — What HAVE I done?
I have days when I just feel mind-numbingly low. Those days all I see myself capable of doing is drowning in my self-made chaos, being heavily unproductive and living alone in a sad, sad life. Do you relate to that? Do you also realise what a dramatic exaggeration that is? If I sit down with myself and really think about it, I have come really far since my breakup with Mr Marriage. I sought therapy, have found self-acceptance and love, met wonderful people who helped me grow as a person, took numerous trips by myself, have grown in my writing and learnt to accept my fears and take more chances in life. I am actually really proud of the person that I have become and I need to tell myself that often. You need to tell yourself that often.
Surround yourself with good media
For a long time, I had a hard time accepting my body hair. My ex, then boyfriend, preferred that I shave, but I always felt physically uncomfortable after I did. I was the most comfortable with my body hair but felt self conscious when I did not shave. Last year I followed a female artist on Instagram who drew women with full-grown body hair, and a couple of months after that a photographer who photographed women of all sizes, with unshaven armpits, thick eyebrows and natural, hairy legs. Surrounded by women who were so comfortable in their skin for so long, I realized I had started to feel comfortable in my own skin too. I realized how important it is to make yourself a world of happy music, body-positive art, motivational writing and encouraging people. Try to change the media you choose to surround yourself with— it makes a difference.
Do you really think you will NEVER come across someone interesting?
Most of my anxiety when meeting someone new existed because I looked at them as someone “I can be with”. It’s just something I am taught to do and I am slowly unlearning it. I think people are so much more interesting when you let them be the authentic individual that they are — not someone you might be with, not your preconceived notions about them or judgements about what should or should not be. Remember there is no rush to find ‘the one’. After all, you only spot fireflies when you’re not looking for them.
Your ex is considering marriage and you are living alone, eating takeout for one, creating little adventures in life, planning trips and dates for yourself, discovering happiness in the little and big things about you and growing into the wonderfully, authentic person that you are. Hey, that isn’t half bad!