The Importance of Being Single
It was a fiery hot toxic one that had lasted close to five long dysfunctional years, and it took all the strength and chutzpa I could muster to kick, scratch and claw my way out of it. I should never have gotten into it, but I’m chalking that up to post-divorce bad judgment.
If you’ve ever heard the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder and are familiar with what that entails, you know what I’m talking about when I say “toxic.” If you haven’t, let me explain that this disorder is about more than someone taking an inordinate amount of selfies and mirror shots. It involves lies, deception, cheating, emotional abuse, mind games and, perhaps most damaging of all, a severe lack of empathy. Where there should be a conscience, there is a black hole of insecurity and desperation in the narcissist. I don’t hate the man and I’m not bitter, but I was significantly confused, angry and devastated at the end.
I needed him but I didn’t want him. I loved him but I couldn’t stand him. I felt empty without him but was utterly shelled whenever we had contact. It was like a bad addiction. So after a 20-year marriage, a sad divorce, and five unhealthy years with The Narcissist, I did the only thing that seemed sane: I decided to be alone.
For 20 months, I stayed unapologetically single. No men. No relationships. No dates. No kisses. No crushes. Not even flirty text messages. Absolutely no sex. I learned how to be by myself, live without a partner, and I embraced being single.
Because for the first time in my adult life, I was.
When you’ve spent more than 25 years as one half of a couple, “conscious uncoupling” (to borrow a phrase from Gwyneth) feels like a bit of a shock. I had to rediscover who I was as just Sienna, not Sienna plus one. I also needed to heal–from my divorce, from The Narcissist and from my own poor choices.
So I said good-bye to coupledom and threw myself into my passions: My kids. My career. My friendships. I took up hiking. I learned about wine. I hired a trainer and began to take care of my body. I pampered myself with facials. I reconnected with old friends. I discovered my love for Italy on a solo trip to Rome for New Year’s Eve 2012 (and have gone back every year since to celebrate). I embraced my life as a single woman in every way I could imagine. And in the course of those 20 months, I grew up. It was the most difficult yet liberating and healthy journey of my adult life.
I also spent hours crying, praying, reading and getting to know me again. And eventually, as time passed, I began to like what I saw . . . in fact, I grew to love her. And in the process, I also grew stronger. Confidence replaced self-doubt, and in time I learned what I hope every woman comes to understand: No offense, Jerry Maguire, but you’re wrong–nobody needs another person to “complete” them. We can be complete on our own. If we choose to be.
My next relationship, if there is to be one, will enhance my life, not define it. But I’m not looking for that. I’m simply living my life, loving my tribe, and enjoying the people whose paths intersect with mine.
Last year, I started this blog with two goals: One, to make you laugh, because once I did start dating again, I realized that it can be comical and hilarious and when you’re as bad at dating as I am, it can be downright pee-your-pants hysterical.
And two, to inspire you. If you’re single, you’ve been given a gift–I promise you. You have an opportunity to grow into an even more fabulous version of who you already are, with nothing to distract you or hold you back. Run headlong into that opportunity. Feed your passions. Protect your heart. Love the people in your life bigger and bolder than ever. You can’t become someone else, but you can become more of you. And now is the perfect time.
“Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” – Carrie Bradshaw