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Onely Watershed Moments April 15, 2009

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, God-Idiot or Asshole?, Heteronormativity, We like. . ..
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imagesIn Lisa’s  blurb on our “About Lisa and Christina” tab, she talks about how she fell in love with her single life on a road trip across the country. I was wondering what other watershed moments our Copious Readers have experienced in their journeys from (maybe) heteronormative self-expectations to acceptance of singlehood as a viable, healthy, and acceptable lifestyle.

I don’t know that I ever had a watershed moment. I think my default setting has always been “mostly fine with singleness”, with momentary spikes into “feeling obligated to date to meet social expectations”. However, I think I had a Watershed Month or two sometime in mid-2008. 

In 2007 I was dumped. Twice. By the same guy. (I know, fool me once, shame on. . .)  He was my best friend, funny, smart, interesting, and so forth. The breakups were fraught with drama, emotionally exhausting, and oh, how I hated the year 2007. It was the worst year ever. Terrible! Horrors! How would I survive without his support and phone calls? What good was anything? Oh the sadness, the loneliness. No one understood. Awfulness. Tears. Screams. Fetal positions in the bathtub.

Then in 2008, several things happened: I got sick on my flight home to Michigan and, terrified, ended up in the emergency room. My friend R, the best-hearted of all my friends ever, was in a snowmobile accident. My friend J was shot in the face in Iraq. Jon lost sight in his eye, and Roy lost his life. All I lost was my naivete.

2007 the worst year ever? Curled up in the tub because of a dumb boyfriend? Come on, Christina.

I barely thought about my ex-boyfriend in the subsequent months as I dealt with this new onslaught of grief and ill health. I won’t go into the details–I’ll just say I had to repair some drywall after I kicked a hole in it.  But as time passed the dust settled (and I painted over the new drywall).  I quit curling up, kicking things, and wanting to hurl stuff into the sky in hopes of hitting God in the face.  But I still retain one thing from that period: the sting of Perspective slapping me in the face.

Because we put romantic couplehood on a pedestal as a panacaea for all that ails us, we think we are justified in creating great emotional drama when our personal pedestal tips over. Especially in rich, privileged societies like the one this blog comes from, we forget that a breakup is not really a problem in the grand spectrum of troubles besetting mankind. Yes, they are hard and messy and become more so if kids are involved. But come on. Let’s all get out of our bathtubs.

What are your Onely watershed moments?



1. bobby - April 15, 2009

First off, thank you for sharing this with us! Secondly, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, and at the same time, great full for your friend who served and gave of himself in the military!

Watershed moment? Me? Well, I think I’m different that many because I have always been comfortable when single. Gee, I hope that I’m not the only one?

onely - April 15, 2009

Thanks Bobby–
No, you’re not the only one! I think a lot of people running around on this blog and other similar blogs have always had a high degree of comfort being single. Some of us have lapses, though. But I guess we all have lapses in everything we do. Even Michael Phelps once didn’t go to the pool to swim–one day in three years. (Or something crazy like that). –CC

2. autonomous - April 15, 2009

It’s amazing how emotional pain can render one so physically inert.
I too went through it 6 yrs. ago and it was the last relationship I truly cared about until I started taking such very good care of myself and valuing myself and others differently.

My watershed moment was a long time coming from that period of fetal-position on the couch of my own so many years ago through a cumulative series of minor victories in self-care and self-esteem. The tangible tipping point was last November when I read Singled Out while recovering from foot surgery. I e-mailed Bella immediately and thanked her for her book: I had already felt crappy enough physically without my own thoughts adding to the mix, then I found what I needed to change my perspective and I felt validated, less lonely and less of a misfit for being uncoupled. And then I found this and other web-sites and the whole head-thing has gotten much easier- Only six months, but far fewer funky days than before and I have a new emotional consistency that I never had before either.

onely - April 15, 2009

Yes, Bella’s book contains many “aha” moments, for sure. Also, interesting how physical pain makes the “head-things” worse. . . CC

3. Alan - April 16, 2009

My own tipping-point came in 2000.

I’d never really been interested in relationships…I’d only had a few dates in college and a few in graduate school. But periodically I’d feel that I was “running out of time” and potentially making a mistake.

So after getting out of graduate school I got a date through Match.com, didn’t go well.

Then I had two dates with a friend of someone from church. Not bad, but didn’t go anywhere. Driving home from the second one, I realized “I really don’t like doing this, it’s not for me”. And haven’t dated since.

4. Lauri - April 16, 2009

I think I’ve had a few watershed moments at different points:

-senior year of college I lived in a suite with 4 girls and 4 of my friends lived directly above us. The 4 of us downstairs never had boyfriends, didn’t hook up all year. The girls upstairs always had something going on with boys. The 4 of us downstairs all graduated cum laude. The 4 upstairs did not. Take from that what you will, but I didn’t think it was a coincidence. If not causation, there was definitely correlation.

-Biggest moment was around age 24, when I actually started dating. Until then I thought that dating/relationships/sex/love/whathaveyou were reserved for very special beautiful people who are lucky enough to experience magical miracles, and I was not one of them. Everything I had seen and heard about it all made it seem like I was missing SO much and there was something wrong with me. But once I started to experience it, my conclusion was “THIS is it???” For a while I thought I was still just different than other people: well maybe I am not desirable enough or lucky enough to get a really good guy and that’s why it’s not as great as it is for everyone else. But then I started to realize, the only difference between my relationships and their’s is the way we perceive them.

-One day in grad school, late 20s, already pretty onely, I’m at the University gym and it’s summer and this HUGE basketball camp for kids is starting. Hundreds of parents were dropping off kids from all over the country. I stood there and watched the parents a bit. I realized that every single one of them had to have been in a relationship at least at some point and most of them were married. All of these hundreds of people. And I looked at them and thought, none of these people looks especially special. None of them are very attractive, most of them are overweight and dressed frumpy. Yet ALL of these people are married or had been or whatever. Three conclusions 1) being in a relationship or married isn’t that special. It happens to a lot of people, a lot of people who aren’t special 2) given 1, being in a relationship isn’t magical. most of these people probably just forced themselves to couple due to convention 3) I don’t want to BE any of these people 4) I certainly don’t want to be MARRIED to any of these people.

-of course, reading Singled Out.

5. Special K - April 16, 2009

A match.com date first where he talked about herpes for 30 minutes…the prevelance, the symptoms, the treatment…all while trying to eat tapas. I was SOOOO thankful that I was confident enough to skip dessert, get home within 20 minutes and watch in the dark, by myself, Good Eats while eating a pudding cup. Superb…

I have days, especially during the Holidays, where I long to “have a family of my very own” though. I think we need to admit our ambivilent feelings about being single, just as married need to speak about their ambivilence! I can say the exact same thing about being too skinny, or the middle child, or white…you know? thanks for the post!

autonomous - April 17, 2009

That’s funny about the first date- but why on earth would anyone discuss it, unless they had it? When I was 36 it seemed all my friends needed to set me up with someone in an effort to see me married, and feeling adventurous I went on half a dozen blind dates. Those are some of the very best stories now because while my friends were well-meaning, I had to work hard to not take personally their splendid “choices” for me. One friend actually chided me for being too picky after her most recent attempted intro was with a guy who complemented me on not having any chest-wrinkles yet. (um, we were standing amongst many people who overheard that gem)

Another watershed moment is realizing that at this juncture of my life, picky = quality. I don’t want to spend time with people who are toxic to my well-being; whether it’s a lover, a friend, or my family of origin. Like Lauri mentions above- it’s easy to get married and procreate-hey, I live in Reno- much harder to get unmarried (well, easier in Reno too but usually it’s just a mess)

onely - April 17, 2009

eeewwwwwww to that chest wrinkles comment. eeewwwwwwwww.

onely - April 17, 2009

eeewwwwwww to that chest wrinkles comment. eeewwwwwwwww.

6. onely - April 17, 2009

K: Great point about admitting ambivalence. You should do a post about that.

I can’t believe your date–that is insane and creepy. Maybe he thought he was being fresh and open and progressive. No, save that for the *second* date. = ) CC

7. Singlutionary - April 18, 2009

Chest wrinkles and herpes? Oh heck. I would much rather work on my garden where something decent actually grows. There are some really gross experiences to be had in the world when you think its necessary to find a mate even if you don’t particularly want one.

My moment: I thought I was actually going to get married to my ex-therapist (and all my problems would, of course, be solved by this union) only to find out that he was a cheating, lazy psychopath. I had everything I ever wanted in the palm of my hand and I had never been more relieved to see that dream crumble. This was even before he exhibited his truly nutzo behavior.

I’ve always been functionally fine with being single but I definitely felt the social stigma. Until I started Singlutionary and found Onely and friends, that is!

8. Pioneering Singles’ Advocate Dr. Bella DePaulo BlogCrawls onto Onely! « Onely: Single and Happy - September 26, 2009

[…] with a bang! Today singles’ advocate extraordinaire Dr. Bella DePaulo relates some personal watershed moments when she realized she didn’t have to find a “Sex and Everything Else Partner” if […]

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