Author: Tom Rhodes, MFT
If you are single, in one sense you are alone. And yet, you are not alone. Many, many people, right now as you are reading this, are single right along with you. Unfortunately, there is a pretty potent stigma attached to this state of relationship. A lot of shame and yearning can come from not being in an intimate relationship, for many different reasons. It is this suffering that can come from believing certain stories about oneself in this context that is moving me to write a blog on the topic. If you are single and have suffered to any degree in being so, I'm very happy that you've happened upon this blog, as my purpose is to elucidate and lighten that burden and pain.
For most of us, there are what could be called 'working edges', or vulnerabilities, both in being in a relationship and being single. For the purposes of this blog article, I will focus briefly on the latter. In my sense, a fundamental vulnerability of being single, perhaps among many, is 'relationship with oneself'. Of course, when in an actual intimate relationship, we to a large degree just experience that in its mirrored/projected form as 'intimacy with partner', but it takes on a different flavor and nuance when we're forced to sit with it directly, to sit with and within ourself directly. In a given moment, it may feel very difficult, even intolerable to a part of us, to sit with what comes up in our aloneness.
An example of this is loneliness. Many of us are taught to a degree that these are one and the same. However, loneliness is more of a storyline that appears in the context of aloneness. Interestingly, it can also appear while being with another, which in itself directly implies that it is not synonymous with aloneness. Being alone can be scary. It can also be quite wonderful and freeing, and anything in between. Just like life itself, being single, as a facet of life, is a microcosm of our very existence. Given that, our 'stuff' will tend to come up! Some common stuff that comes up is cultural pressure to be partnered up or have a family, biological and/or a soul yearning to be close or intimate with someone we feel a charge and resonance with, or to be a parent. Another big one is missing the physical intimacy, both sexual and sensual, and the sweet hormones and neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine that get released in our systems from sexual and sensual contact. It is very natural to experience any or all of these.
Just like in relationships, our 'core beliefs', i.e.-- "I'm not enough" or "I'm too much", can arise with an intense force and sense of conviction when we are not in an intimate relationship. We can abandon ourselves in the moment when we need ourselves, our loving presence, most of all. To get flagrantly psychological for a moment, often to the degree that we didn't get an optimal amount of loving presence and validation as children from our parents or caregivers, we will play that out with ourselves in our lives as adults, both in and out of relationship. The one relationship we can't get away from is this one with ourself. I want to honor and validate, whoever you are reading this right now, both your suffering and your freedom in being alone, whether you are single or not. Sometimes just a moment of really taking that validation in, from another, from oneself, is the ultimate medicine, food, or antidote to nourish us back into this presence that we are, no matter where we are or who we are with. I bow to that in you.
Labels: Being Single, Relationships, Tom Rhodes