On being single

Kweku and Fi wedding cake detailWind wisps through the air, leaves shiver on their stems. People bustle past the forlorn store fronts hurrying to find their way to some indistinct place. Their speed suggests purposes, urgency, a thing to be done before any other. But they carry on, moving fast but arriving nowhere. A perpetual asymmetry of intent and achievement.

A perpetual asymmetry of intent and achievement.

A lot of movement but not a lot of action.

A lot of words but not enough openness. Frankness as shade to protect the fragile soul. Saying things we don’t mean to mask the heart. Leaving places too painful so we don’t have to wear our scars before those who know their cause.

The temptation to move on. The idea that some different place will be a better place. The hope that dreams might come true. The figment of our imagination we think might switch to reality if we loiter in its midst for long enough.

The refusal to step out of our comfort zone because we do not want it to end this way. The loneliness of wondering if anything will ever be, but the company of delaying any definitive action to suspend in animation the potentiality we do not want to test in case it proves us wrong. Some residue of solace resides in not acting.

The person who has captured our attention. Because it is never abstract. The one who has removed all our reason, for whom our logic lies languished. The one we think about when we talk about relationships. The one we think about when we wonder if we want to be single or not.

When we want to be with some one it is rarely a conceptual idea. It is not detached from the people we know. We do not build relationships, romantic or otherwise, with an idea or a generic person. We build relationships with people we know, and people who know us.

And when I hide behind the thought I might not like the way something works out I am not letting other people know me. Even when I am wearing my emotions to the world, writing tortured prose to the viewing public, if I am pretending to be someone I am not, if I am purporting to pursue something other than what I wished was the case, then I am not letting people know me.

I can let the world see a conceptual version of myself, I can let people into a room filled with emotions, with hurts and pains, with desires and dreams, I can filter these through the words I choose to use, and let my openness cover over my recalcitrance.

A melancholy moment, but tinged only with a thread of sadness. Because it was the realisation that too often I make a lot of noise about relationships, and it seems to mostly be a distraction.

I realised last week I don’t want to be single. It is a reaction not of despair but of lucidity. It was the thought and the emotion that came together. It was an acknowledgement that dissatisfaction with my current situation was not theoretical or an illusion.

For too long I’ve tried to convince myself that I should be happy to be single. I should be satisfied that is where I am. I should find fulfilment in the situation I am in. But it felt like a self non-fulfilling prophecy. The more I thought I ought to be fulfilled, the less I realised I was.

I can be stubborn and independent.

I can be active and achieve a lot.

I can articulate the benefits of being single. I can take for granted even more.

I would read that being a single Christian gives me a chance to concentrate on my relationship with God, to sort out all those little flaws that compromise my character, the weaknesses that are damaging to me but potentially more so to another. But I think we can spend too long trying to get it right. We can ponder finding the route to a pure inner self for so long that we are not finding fulfilment but getting lost on a road of perfectionism.

I am broken, I am bruised. I am lost, and I am found. And I recall something Simon Ponsonby once said, but fail to remember who he attributed it to, “We turn to find that he has already turned”. We are not defined by our failings. We are not defined by our inability to make the mark. We are able to take whichever path is in front of us with a confidence that we are defined by our redemption and not by our fall.

What if all of my faults ran into one. What if all of mine ran into you.

I’ve spent so long trying to convince myself that I should be happy being single that I’ve laid the responsibility for it not being so at my feet. I’ve told myself I need to be happy where I am before I can be happy anywhere else. I told myself singleness is a by product, an almost irrelevant detail. But what if I just didn’t really want to think about it? What if I didn’t want to do anything about it?

What if being single was not what I was meant to be?

2 thoughts on “On being single

  1. Thanks for sharing this. It helps not feel quite so alone in being single and desire to share your life with a significant person. I guess we are never really single though as we have a relationship with the divine. Perhaps this time of singleness will bring greater joy in a future relationship than if you had not had this time of pain, soul searching, questioning and loneliness etc

  2. This is where I find Catholic theology to be very insightful. The Catechism teaches that we all possess a vocation to marriage by the simple virtue of our humanity. It is something we are all meant to desire. A particular group of individuals will have the additional capacity and vocation for celibacy. These people who have both have complete freedom to choose one or the other as they are both equal in dignity and value. I get lost sometimes in Protestant culture as we tend to view marriage and celibacy as mutually exclusive. What if we choose one but we are in fact called to the other? Can we desire one if we are pursuing the other? So I perceive your admittance of a desire for a romantic relationship not as a confession of an ungrateful celibate man, but as a reflection of your God-given vocation for companionship. It’s normal. It’s ok 🙂

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