I woke up a few weeks ago at 1 am, and my heart was pounding. I’m not sure if it was a dream I had that I couldn’t remember, but out of nowhere, I was flooded with thoughts I hadn’t had since my recent breakup. You are 47! What if you never meet someone? What’s wrong with you? Your marriage ended, and now you broke it off with the man you’ve been with for three years. When are you going to find someone?
I got up to go to the bathroom and then I resumed the starfish position in my bed. I’d just gotten new sheets, and they felt wonderful, and I remembered who I was again: someone who isn’t worried about whether I find someone or not, regardless of my age. Then I drifted back to sleep.
When I was younger, being with someone was a huge concern. I wanted to be partnered, I wanted to be needed, and I wanted to build my life with someone. I partly blame society and the pressures it puts on women. There are so many movies where the only happy ending involves finding true love; it’s made us believe there’s no other way to feel complete and we have to do it with a sense of urgency. And I also blame myself for thinking that is the only way to feel complete and happy.
I still believe in that kind of relationship with all my soul, but there is a difference between thinking it and feeling panicked because I don’t have it right now and making it the focus of my life.
I have three kids who are all young adults and won’t be living with me much longer. I have a career I love. I have good friends and family members. I love where I live and feel like, at my age, I’m more at peace than I ever have been, so finding a man isn’t a concern.
I am concerned, though, with making the most of each day. I’m concerned with living a healthy lifestyle that feels fulfilling. I’m concerned about being the best mother I can be for my kids. I’m concerned about my happiness most of all and well, I’ve realized in my almost five decades of being on this earth that it’s an inside job. There isn’t a person out there who can complete me or make me feel fulfilled if I’m not already there.
I like buying whatever I want when I want without consulting other people. I love sprawling out and having my bed to myself. It’s freeing to go to bed when I want, not to make sacrifices to suit another person. I enjoy driving down the road with my music blasting on certain days and turning the radio off on others.
To some people, that may sound selfish, and I am okay with that. Being selfish means you are putting yourself first, and damn it’s been a long time since I’ve done that.
This isn’t an “I’ve sworn off having a partner forever because I’m better off without men” kind of rant. Instead, it’s a love letter to myself, my very single self enjoying this time in my life with my older kids. It’s a reminder that no matter what happens in life, who I meet, where I go, or what I do, I am responsible for making it the best life I can, and I genuinely believe that’s possible to do with or without a man by my side. I will not settle for someone who doesn’t fit into my life or continues to push my boundaries to have someone or because I feel obligated because I’ve already invested a certain amount of time. I’ve done that, and it’s lonelier than being alone.
I will make all the necessary sacrifices and commitments and do the work when I find the right person. But I’m enjoying this freedom right now. I like the stage of life I’m in. So, I’m not going to rush a thing. I’m not going to go search for someone with a sense of urgency because of my age or the fact my kids won’t be living here in a few years.
I’m in no rush because I feel with my entire being, this is the life I am supposed to have right now. And when the right person for me shows up, I will be able to show up. But, until then, I am going to soak up this time. Being single has so much to offer. I’m okay with the realization I may or may not ever find a life partner.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing, she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.