My kids are blunt and I love them for it. One of the boys in my class once hit the nail on the head by asking: “Why aren’t you married? Couldn’t you find one?!“ It made me laugh, but he had a point. I’ve now been single (or ’very single’ as hip people call it these days) for 3 years. What’s up with that?
And no, this is not going to be yet another essay that claims that being single is the most amazing thing in the world. Because it’s not. But it’s also not the worst either. There are different aspects to the whole issue.
Let’s start with the Why: Getting out of the second relationship in a row that left my self-confidence and mental health in shambles, I desperately needed to get my ducks in a row. I needed to figure out who I was, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, without looking up to someone for guidance. I needed to become a stronger person and do things on my own before I could even dare to get involved with anyone again.
To keep pursuing the profession I’d been working towards since I was 18 years old, I threw myself into teacher training. These 1,5 years of pure nightmare simply didn’t leave room or nerves for another person in my life. This may be difficult to understand if you haven’t done it, but to prove my point: A lot of my colleagues in teacher training got dumped by their partners, because they just couldn’t take seeing them stressed out and unhappy on a daily basis anymore. Anyway, I came out of that training with a presentable diploma and a full-time position in a school in Japan. Duck number one, check.
New start, new luck? Sadly that didn’t happen for many months to come. The strain of living abroad in a country where I couldn’t read, write or speak the language, and working full-time as a newly qualified teacher, with the pressure of a school that sets very high standards for students and teachers alike, I got physically ill. I’ve talked about this in some of my other posts, but the gist is: Getting into a relationship while all you do is going to the doctor’s office, worrying about your health, your job and your entire future (and crying your eyes out about it on the bathroom floor) is highly unlikely and also not sensible. Tough as it was, I needed to get through this alone. After half a year of medical treatment, my health started to become more stable again. Duck number two, check.
With my health back on track, the crying on the bathroom floor diminished until it was a thing of the past entirely. All the weakness I had felt for a long time slowly turned into strength. Now I look back on all that has happened in the past year and seriously wonder how I did it. By myself. And here’s the thing: Every time I sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office or the hospital for hours and hours, and every time I came home to an empty apartment afterwards, I wished for nothing more than for someone to be there with me. For me. It had seemed so unfair that I had to endure all of this alone.
I know this might sound strange, but reflecting now, I’m sort of glad I had to get through this on my own. Because now I know for certain, that whatever happens in my life, I will get through it, and if I have to, I’ll do it on my own again. I now feel capable of dealing with the worst of situations, with hopelessness, frustration, fear. Of course I wouldn’t have learnt to do any of this without my friends, and I’ll dedicate a whole other post to that one day, but the thing is, when anxiety hits you, there isn’t always a friend right next to you in that very moment. That’s when you need to sort yourself out, and I think I’ve become pretty good at that. I can handle myself and my emotions. Duck number three, check.
So finally, my life is going well, the way I had wanted it to go for years. I’m finally there. I like my job. It still exhausts me, but in a way I can deal with. I like the people in my life, my kids, my colleagues, my friends. I get to wake up in the morning and see the clear blue Japanese autumn sky through my window. I feel grateful many times throughout the day, every day.
Life is good.
The ducks are in a row, and so far, they’re all behaving well. I know I’ll have a runner again soon enough, but I know I’ll be able to catch it and bring it back.
A friend (who is just as blunt as my kids) recently asked me: “Would you like to be in a relationship?“ I said yes. His optimistic follow-up question was: “What if it doesn’t happen?“ I was both surprised and content with my answer:
“Then life will continue, and I will be fine.“