On this date, ten years ago, my last Significant Other relationship ended. There have been none since.
Cry not “foul!” – for I do not: The simple “I can’t” that came in the face of my great need, hope and expectation was, I know now, the most honest… uh, something. Yes, with colossally poor timing and, no, I did not take it gracefully at all. For days, in fact. (Do not bet against me in a “top this!” contest. You will not win.) Still – most honest thing. Even if it would be nearly a decade before I’d see that truth.
For the first few years after there were occasional hopeful flirtations that never led to anything, punctuated by flare-ups of culturally embedded self-doubt (ohmygod-I’maSPINSTER!) and bouts of loneliness that came naturally because I still believed so deeply in The One True Love.
Then came ever-longer periods of just being on my own, and a quiet realization of being okay with that.
Really, truly okay.
Because, here’s what happened: the vast, empty space filled up.
Filled up with noticing fine little threads of connection between myself and every other being I have a relationship with. Relate to. And that’s more than one: It is, realistically, hundreds of beings.
Filled up with the experience of subtle, powerful, real details that make up a friendship – indeed, that make up a friend.
Filled up with the wisdom-that-has-no-words that lives in the spaces between me and each member of my family – for shared DNA or history or both are what tether us in place, when we would otherwise run (far, far away!) from the truest understanding we could ever get of our own selves. They are me, I am them. When I grokked this.. Oh, wow. Forgiveness came in a massive wave and then released, and an instant later there was no longer anything to forgive. All was always exactly as it ever should have been.
Filled up with the deep loving sweetness that every animal on this planet simply IS, and is here to share with us. (Two such creatures are with me now, and another is in the next room. I can feel her sleeping. Peace.)
Filled up with me. No longer only the me-as-others-see-me; the me-as-I-see-me. (I can’t quite explain how cool it is to let go of liking things just because someone else does, so they will like me, too. Every single day I find something new to like, and it matters not if it is only a club of one.)
Somewhere around the midpoint of these past ten years I stopped dismissing anything that didn’t fit my old version of one-true-love and started seeing. All my attention, all my energy, had been for so long focused at any given time on one single person outside of myself that I could not begin to fathom the truth of what was waiting. (What waits, indeed, for every living being who thinks there’s only one way to have luuuuvvvv.)
So, today, on Valentine’s Day, after ten years away from relationship-with-a-capital-R in any of its forms – after all that – you know? I still believe in the One True Love.
Because “one true love” is: