Single & 40:
Two-Time Divorceé Finds Love Again—With Herself
BY BENÈE SMITH
It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m in the throes of #SoccerMom-dom, #BasketballMom-dom, #MotherOfTheBride-dom. Pick one or all three because somewhere on a Saturday, I’m vigorously making up for all the mother things I didn’t get a chance to do during the week — so I don’t feel like a horrible mom due to my long work and commute hours.
As it gets closer to Saturday night, I morph from mom into woman, a minglin’ single lady, and the thought of what the evening will bring starts to enter my mind. Luckily, even at 40, I seem to have plenty of options. Text messages are buzzing on my phone. Facebook is reminding me of scheduled events for the evening. Email is filled with flyers, Evites, and personal invitations.
Do I go to a friend’s BBQ? Lounge? Club? Will the bar be too crowded or too boring? Will the drinks be overpriced? Go on a date maybe? Or will the guy cancel like he did last week? And if he does show up will I even like him?
How often will I hear my dad’s voice in my head telling me to make sure he doesn’t spike my drink and drag me off somewhere? But if I do really like him, should I let him drag me off on the first night–or wait? I don’t want him to think I’m, well, you know. But I’m a grown up so I can do what I want, right?
But wait–do I even feel like going out? Do I really feel like picking out, lathering on, squeezing into, and painting on…anything at all? Hmmmm…instead, how about hair in a bun, t-shirt, shorts, fuzzy socks, take-out, wine, and my DVR?
There was a time when I didn’t want to have these choices. I was The Relationship Girl. Being single was rarely a thought when I was married. Both times. Yes, I’ve been married twice. First time to my children’s father; we were together for about 18 years. The second time for just a few short years very soon after my first divorce. So here I am, single and 40 years old, mom to three beautiful children (ages 22, 18, and 13), and essentially living a life that I “should have lived” when I was in my 20s.
Although I was married for for about 20 years of my adult life, and I’ve only been single for four, being single has been the most rewarding and meaningful “relationship” I’ve ever had. A relationship with my crazy self! It’s a gift I’ve given myself that will keep giving long after I’m no longer single (a status that, for the record, I’m not looking to permanently change any time soon).
Here’s the thing. I get that not everyone at my age is as excited as I am about being single. I have friends who have never been married and wonder if they’ll be single until they die. I have friends who have been married once, are looking to get married again, and can’t understand how being single in 2016 is fun on any level.
I say to them, try looking at it this way: it’s OK to enjoy this single life ride. Sure, it can be a rollercoaster at times but isn’t that a better ride than that bumper car marriage of yours was?
More specifically, here are a few reasons that, based on my experience, might help some single ladies (and fellas) out there. Actually, they’re not reasons—I’m calling them gifts.
For many, if not most, being single is not a permanent condition. It’s temporary. I repeat: not permanent. Some feel like it’s a lifetime curse, but it’s not. After my first marriage, I wondered if anyone would even want to love me again. Three kids and hella bagage. What respectable man would want that? But I did find love again, with my second husband. Granted, it might not have been the right person or the right time, or a combination of both. And it didn’t end up lasting for eternity. But I did find love again. And I believe that I’ll find it yet again one day—when I’m done with my current self-love affair.
What matters most is what you do in the meantime. So, in this meantime, while here in this paragraph, take a breath, and just embrace it…single is OK… BREATHE… Being. Single. Is. OK.
I’m going to venture to say this is probably one of the best of the single life perks in my little ol’ opinion: the single sex life can be reeeally nice. Yes, three e’s in that “really.” And I reeeally mean it! And here’s how I come to this conclusion. When I was married the first time, I was a prude, for the most part. I was young, didn’t know anything, and grew up with the feeling that sex was bad or dirty or I just wasn’t supposed to enjoy it as much as I might have wanted to.
The problem then was that I didn’t cross-check those feelings with what I was reeeally feeling on the inside. Then top it off with me not reeeally liking my husband that much due to our marital issues.
I was more vocal and sexually sure of myself during marriage #2, yet still broken emotionally.
But then I became single. And I happened to become single at what is known to be a woman’s sexual peak…oh, those wonderful 40s! I went from constantly being concerned about pleasing someone else to now acknowledging, saying, and ensuring I got what I came to get (pun intended). And all of a sudden, I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid of hurt feelings or egos. I wasn’t afraid to say what I wanted and how I wanted it. And most importantly, I was OK with what I saw when I looked in the mirror: stretch marks, muffin top, birth marks–I was OK with it all! Imagine that. Married me = pleasing others. Single me = pleasing ME.
If you’re living life single, and you’re like me, 40 and over, and your kids are of the non-babysitting age, take advantage of the single social life. You may not be one to go out every night, not even once a week. You may be the once-a-month, or even a once-a-quarter type of person. But no matter how often you go out, or what you do while you’re out, the joy of being single is that you do not have to explain yourself to another adult.
I will never forget the first time I went to a local bar to grab a glass of wine and watch a game alone! I literally had an entire conversation with myself as I was getting ready, and on the drive there (and even sitting in the car for 15 minutes in front of said bar). And then I did it, sweaty hands and pits and all. I went in, sat down, and enjoyed my date—with me.
I was so proud of myself when I got home. I felt like a real grown up. It was the confidence boost that I needed, to be OK with being single, with doing what I want. And now when I go out, I look in the mirror and say, “Do you, Boo!” Try it.
Enjoy not having to get another’s opinion. Find and listen to your own, and learn to be confident in your choices simply because you can.
Being single has given me the perfect opportunity to get to know and love the person I am. And believe it or not, at 40, I’m only now figuring that out—truly. Moving forward, if I don’t know who I am, neither will the person I end up with. If I don’t like the person I am, neither will the person I end up with.
When my first marriage ended, I was so overwhelmed with what went wrong that I barely took the time to figure out who I was at that time, and what I did wrong that contributed to the failure of that relationship. Instead I got married again. Different problems, same result.
Ever jump into a relationship, and when the honeymoon phase ends, you feel like something is missing? You can’t quite pinpoint what it is (or maybe you can), but it just doesn’t fit? That was my problem. As a result, I then required more of my partners to fill what was missing in me, to no avail. My expectations grew. My insecurities grew. My anxieties grew. I was looking to fill a void that marriage would not be able to fill—ever.
It wasn’t until my second marriage ended, and I was single—truly single– that I finally found my inner voice, heard my inner voice, and actually listened to it. I found out what was missing: love for myself.
Like me, you might be single by choice or by circumstance. Yet no matter the reason, my advice is to try and get to know who you reeeally are while you’re on your own. Learn to find and listen to that inner voice that tells you when you’re in a good place emotionally, and more importantly, learn to find and listen to it when you’re feeling and acting a little cray-cray (like we all occasionally do).
I have talks with me on a regular basis these days; some chats are pep talks, some are to gently pry myself off an emotional ledge into a sound and reasonable head space, and some are conversations of compliments–even if I’m having a bad hair or bloated tummy day. We’re all our own worst critics but we can also be our biggest cheerleaders.
And yes, I’m still mom, still busy at work, and still The Relationship Girl. I’m single, 40, and enjoying perhaps the healthiest, happiest, and most successful relationship of my life.
And she’s a keeper.
Benèe Smith can be reached at Beneealicia23@yahoo.com
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