My Ring Finger is Retired
"Do you think you'll ever get married again?" "Do you want to get married again?" "Do you think you'll ever find someone you trust enough to marry again?"
For a woman who has been living in her very own reality show her entire life, I am blessed beyond words to have an endless well of people who genuinely care about me. That's why when I am asked these questions my first reaction is to smile. They want to hear "Yes. I do", "Yes I want to", "Of course I will". Answering with a yes to any of those questions gives hope and relief that I haven't become jaded when it comes to love.
I'm "officially" single almost 18 months now but I lived the first few months in fear. Fear of being alone, not being able to survive on my own, clogging a toilet and then being unable to unclog the toilet, killing the spiders that occasionally show up on my walls, flat tires, food shopping for one, cooking for one, dating, being the only single woman at a party, spending Saturday nights alone, never being kissed again, never having sex again, never lying naked in bed next to a man again, never waking up to a man again, never being told I'm beautiful (or, in my case adorable), never feeling fulfilled and never being happy. Some days the fear unexpectedly washed over me and it took days to quiet down. The only way I knew how to deal with it was to make sure my smile was always the biggest and brightest in the room, and my sense of humor on point. By the time I went home and closed the door behind me at the end of those days, the only two things I could muster were a good cry and a dead sleep. Other days it was like a steady ache that occasionally dealt a painful blow...like menstrual cramps. I handled it but fear was always below the surface. It dawned on me that my fear of being single, alone and without a partner was dragging me down as much as the abusive relationship I left behind.
I thought about all the things I wanted and decided the only choice I had was face my fear head on and figure out a way to turn it into ambition. I have to admit, half the time I didn't know what the hell I was doing. There are days I still don't. But I started with something I knew...networking. I began networking several mornings a week, setting up 1-1s and attending evening events. I was scared to death but I did it. From there I decided I was going to start a non-profit organization. I put together an "event" and made myself the headliner. More than once I asked myself who the hell I thought I was. I stood in front of a room of almost 80 people and told them all about myself - the good, the bad and the painfully ugly. I made them laugh; I made them cry. But the most important thing I did was make them believe that what I was trying to do was a worthy cause to get behind. I threw myself back into my real estate business and joined a networking group of women whose members had experienced hardships and were figuring out how to be successful. I asked questions, listened and built relationships. I learned to look people in the eye, shake their hand and confidently introduce myself. I started to believe I could become something. I started to believe in myself.
I learned that asking for help didn't mean I was weak, incapable or pathetic. No one gets through life without a little help from their friends. There was no turning back.
I looked up and realized I was creating a good life with a lot of good people in it. My life was happening and I loved it.
I started killing spiders, unclogging toilets, asking friends to help me with flat tires, food shopping and cooking for one, accepting invites and sitting at the table as the only single woman. I started living and the more I did the easier it became. I reconnected with old friends and even some old loves, and enjoyed all of their company. Those who remain in my life today are relationships I cherish more now than before, and those that didn't I am still grateful to have been reacquainted with regardless of how brief our time together again lasted.
When I forced myself to stop looking for love, security and a forever relationship with someone else I had no choice but to believe I was capable of creating a happy life. The less I thought about it and the less I looked for it, the easier it became to actually be a happy person. It has not been easy on many levels. I will always be a work in progress, but isn't everyone? By turning all the fear of being single and alone into ambition I opened up possibilities I never would have recognized simply because I would have continued to exist in the belief that I was incapable of creating something on my own.
So when someone asks me about getting married again I'm going to be honest. I'm going to smile and tell them that my ring finger is retired. I don't need to be married to care for and about someone, make dinner for two, relax on a Sunday afternoon with a special someone, or fall asleep in bed together. I can care deeply for, be friends with, laugh with, make memories with and allow life to happen with another and remain happy.
"If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it". I'm loving all the people fate has brought into my life...no ring required.