On Being My Own Best Friend

I am at peace with being single.

Yes, I have moments of loneliness. Today, I had a little cry.

But that’s healthy! I’m allowing that feeling.

In the past, I would have tried to blot that out by contacting an ex, or dating someone I was barely luke-warm about– just to be “dating” someone.

Instead, I embrace how I feel and trust my judgement. I trust God. And I do what I need and I am patient.

I’ve been going out less, and resting instead. Taking care of myself better.

These days, I just value my time and my self-esteem more. I won’t make plans or go to a party if I don’t feel right about going– if I’m tired, or sick, or just want to relax. If I things I need to do, I don’t put a social agenda ahead of those priorities. This year, I’ve been learning to value myself more. For a lot of years, I put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. I didn’t even KNOW what my needs were, truthfully. I kept myself so busy, I didn’t have time to think about it. That was the point. I didn’t want to be alone, and I didn’t want to think about being alone. I would call people constantly, to avoid the silence.

And now, I rarely make phone calls. But when I do, I enjoy them so much more. They’re usually shorter– but more meaningful. And not because I don’t call people less because I’m isolating myself- but because I deserve this solitude. It’s a gift! The quiet. I know won’t be this simple forever. I’m formulating plans, but don’t feel the need to tell everyone the details.

I’m not asking for advice nearly as much.When I do, it’s only a few that I trust indefatigably.

I value my own opinion now. I know that I trust myself. And that makes ME proud.

Since college, I basically was relentlessly social. I had so many friends. I went to almost every party to which I was invited.

And this year? It’s been about me. And my choices. And how I want to spend my time.

I only accept a few invitations now.

And it’s been healing, and NEEDED, and glorious.

And honestly, I don’t feel a huge pull towards dating right now.

If anything, maybe something casual and uncommitted. I’m enjoying the gift of friendships right now.

Via online dating, I’ve gotten messages from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan– even Texas. And that’s incredibly validating.

But I’ve also already had a long-distance relationship. A few times. I’ve dealt with distances between three hours and 3,000 miles for love.

Now, I’m keeping my relationships local. My life is here. And if a man wants to see you, he will travel. That’s the truth.

I’m investing in myself. If I travel that far to someone, it will be family or one of my trusted best friends who have moved out of state.

But I don’t feel ready yet to give up this time to myself.

The next man who I allow into my life in a meaningful way will have to earn his way there– over time. With patience.

I’m very selective about who I trust now– and that’s just being smart.

That applies to platonic friendships with women as well. What I’ve learned is that we should apply some of the time-honored precepts of dating to our friendships as well. Intimacy should happen slowly over time, as it is earned by trust and respect. A lot of women are eager to ask a  lot of personal questions of you and seem to listen with such attention. But they also carelessly pass along very revealing details about others– because they will do the same with what you confide. For many women, gossip is the social currency of their lives. They are insecure and that’s why they put others down and gossip.

I’ve learned to say much less about myself and stop the chattering.

That’s what is so empowering about writing. It allows you to take control of your own narrative and choose how the world perceives you. You can report the facts accurately. You can tell the story exactly the way it happened, or you can elevate to art and use it to craft poems, fiction, or any other form you choose. You can use your experiences as a basis for telling a BIGGER story, with a universal theme.

I’ve already had the immediately romantic, intense dating relationships. And truly, that’s not healthy. It’s two people trying to fill a void with each other. My best relationships happened very slowly– and developed as a friendship first. Now I want to get to know a man over time, in a casual way. Without any romantic pressure. I honestly am not even sure I want to be going on “dates” anymore right now.

I only allow a man to pay for me if I’m sure that I like him. If I don’t, I pay for myself.

It’s true that when a man pays for you, it changes the dynamic. I just want to do simple things that are either free or don’t cost much money. Where we can just enjoy each other’s company. And I don’t want to add a physical relationship into the equation– even a kiss– unless I KNOW that he values me and is already committed to me.

I want unconditional friendship first. THEN maybe I’ll think about love.

But this year, I’ve learned to give myself the gift of unconditional friendship. The gift of my unconditional love of SELF.

I’ve accepted myself for all my faults. I’ve learned to cherish my strengths. And I’ve forgiven myself and asserted myself.

I’ve stopped relying on others for validation.

And I became my own best friend. I became closer with my family.

I used to be so hung up on what others thought of me.

But now I’ve learned to detach and just keep on. What others think of you is not your business, or your problem. And if someone tries to sully your reputation out spite, that reflects on them– not on you. People will be spiteful if you’re nice, if you’re successful, or if you have something they want and they resent it.

I’ve learned that we have no control over how others feel about us. Rumors will eventually be exposed as that. Just stay out of it. A liar will eventually trip up in their web of untruths and people will see through them.

Rather than respond, just rise above.

I have a Brian Andreas print given to me by a friend, called Dark Garden:

“I once had a garden that grew only on dark thoughts, but they need constant attention & one day I decided I had better things to do.”

And that’s what I remember when I think about the dark gardens of my past. I feel no guilt about leaving them unwatered, deserted. In doing so, I have learned to nurture myself– because those dark gardens too much of my energy and time.

It was better to pray for strength than be impulsive with my words.

Because when you say something cruel, the person you wound the most is yourself.

Instead I’ve turned to God, and to art.

And in embracing those two passions in my life, I came alive again in a way I haven’t since I was a kid.

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