If I only had a dollar for every time I got asked this question.
My default response has been to make a joke, get awkward, become philosophical, change the subject and/or get defensive. While quietly pretending that my egoic self isn’t triggered in any way.
As an Indian woman society has consistently demanded that I be married by twenty-three, procreate by twenty-four and my life would be complete.
I remember being advised that when marriage equates to having the freedom to live my life the way I want to. My intuitive intelligence called bullsh*t even at that blossoming age as it was out of alignment with what I perceived in my physical reality – I did not witness any married woman to be free.
But I longed to be a good, obliging Indian woman. Sadly my burning desire to belong, be accepted, loved and included did not override my inner guidance to follow a path that could not be squeezed to fit into the little box labelled society’s expectations.
At the same time the desire to be in a healthy intimate relationship was also alive.
But I had pride (the cocky kind). Along with a dash of judgement made for a deadly cocktail of self-loathing and separation.
Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I found myself oscillating between a couple of unfulfilling relationships and intense drawn-out periods of isolation. I covered this all up very cleverly with many valid excuses.
‘He wasn’t good enough for me’, ‘I am not interested in a relationship right now’, ‘ the timing is just not right’, ‘I cannot seem to find anyone like-minded’, ‘I am happy being single’, ‘I have too much going on in my life right now’. The list goes on.
There was some truth to this, at different times, but mostly I carried within a deep sense of shame, regret and sadness. With each passing year, I became painfully aware of the growing distance between me and society’s expectations of me.
Each failed intimate connection only encouraged my determination to fix myself. I cringe as I write that word – FIX.
You see, to feel accepted meant that I had to embody a PERFECT version that was out there, in the ether. This was my childhood too and so I took it upon myself to adopt a similar approach towards relationships.
The sense of isolation increased with each passing year and I convinced myself that I wasn’t relationship material.
My core inner dialogue became: ‘When I get fix (insert any negative pattern of behaviour) I will find the man who loves me for who I am.’
How is anyone to love me for who I am, if I am not able to fully love all that I am?
This is low self-esteem.
This does not just affect those of us who are single. I know many who are in extremely unhealthy relationships for this very reason.
As I acknowledge my own struggle openly, I worry that I will be perceived as weak and be judged and yet I feel this incredible sense of freedom for finally giving it a voice.
Most of us have battled with low self-esteem to varying degrees and yet we seem to hide behind our thick smelly blankets of preservation and deny ourselves the intimacy that comes with being vulnerable.
This is why we hurt ourselves.
This is why we deny love and complain that there isn’t any.
This is why we compete, compare, hate and destroy.
This is why we give up on our right to breathe.
When we recognise this pattern, we have sense of personal responsibility, for ourselves and our loved ones.
I am not the problem. Neither, am I the solution.
I am just me.
And all of me is all there is to be.
Single or not, are you with me?
Imagine changing this wounded blueprint to bring forth more healing in ourselves and our relationships with each other? This is worthy of a humble bow.