Before we go any further into my sordid dating past, Ashera had the idea that I should provide a status report on my life and current relationship information; what it’s like to be single for a while after two back-to-back relationships, etc. Because Ashera is right about everything, I agreed. Seriously. That lady holds the key to the Western gate; she knows all. And it’s almost her birthday so I believe I’m legally obligated to do whatever she asks/says/demands.
Captain’s Log: December 11, 2014. I have been single for almost exactly ten months. And it’s fucking amazing. This time last year, I was struggling in my relationship. I wasn’t happy. I knew I wasn’t happy, and that I hadn’t been for a long time. I was not good about expressing those feelings because my ex was having a tough go of things, and I felt selfish for being unhappy. Of course, he was treating me poorly, as he had for nearly four years. I had built-up resentment and anger; I was so incredibly frustrated and stuck and exhausted from trying for so long. I am not saying I was the perfect partner. I know I wasn’t. I could have been a lot better, and I know it. Yet I did give it my all for as long as I could, and it still was not working. Most nights I didn’t even want to get together with him. I just wanted to go home and hang out with my new, awesome roommates, or enjoy some quiet solitude cuddling with my cat, Gomez (or Donuts, depending on whom you ask). The thought of having to get together to hear him complain about all the daily injustices he suffered became too much. I yearned for more Nicole Time. Time with my friends, time with myself, time spent doing what I wanted to do, which was often drink faux champagne in the bathtub while watching Six Feet Under. I was comfortable with the thought of being alone, for the first time in years. The first time my ex and I broke up, it wasn’t quite the same.
Yes, we had broken up before, about this date two years ago. We were living together and going through a rough patch, when he suddenly announced to me he wasn’t sure what he wanted anymore. He started staying at his mom’s house; I lived alone, surrounded by memories. It was horrible. My anxiety levels had increased in recent years, but I started to have regular panic attacks. I couldn’t face it. My whole life with him was around me, every single day, but he wasn’t there. He had never really been there. I tried to handle the situation, and was starting to get to a decent place, when we ended up having to help each other move out of that shitty apartment at the end of January, because most of our friends bailed on moving at the last minute. We relied on each other, and of course, had ex sex. My feelings were re-awoken. We started talking and getting together, mostly for sex, because that’s what we did best together.
We attempted to keep it casual at first, but how do you casually date someone you had lived with, had recently broken up with, and had spent almost three years together? It wasn’t possible. I gave him the ultimatum: we are together for real, or we stop this completely because I can’t handle it. I thought that was very honest and upfront, which was something I was working towards: being honest and not just saying everything was fine when it wasn't. He agreed to give it another shot. It started out wonderfully and was going quite well for a few months. I was ecstatic. Ashera (and all of my other friends) were not so pleased, but they supported me and loved me because I have excellent friends whom I love dearly.
And then the hypocrisy started to re-emerge. My anxiety came back. His usage of stimulants and substances increased and began to piss me off even more. We started having real fights. It all came rushing back to bite me in the ass again (not in a fun way). As noted before, we broke up shortly before our four(ish) year anniversary, at the beginning of February, 2014.
I went through a lot of shit the past two winters, trying to reconcile many disparities and figure out what I want and who I am. Luckily, now, ten months single, I finally have a better understanding. I do not have to worry about his reactions to what I want or how I feel. Do I obviously still bear some resentment towards the ex? Yes. Am I proud of it? Not necessarily, no. In a lot of ways I have forgiven him for things that were done and said. But I’ve realized I really had to forgive myself, because I hold the most anger towards me for putting up with all that I did for so long. I am not perfect. I am, however, more complete and more ‘Nicole’ than I have been in years.
In June, I took the chance and drove myself and my cat across the country to California to live with my aunt and uncle and start again. If I had thought more about it, I honestly don’t know if I would have taken the risk. I left all my amazing friends, most of my family, a decent job, a great apartment, all for the unknown. I had to. Life out here is so incredibly different from life in Buffalo, but in a way that works for me. I love the weather; cliché but true. I am not a fan of cold and snow. I don’t ski or snowboard; I’d rather be inside reading and drinking hot chocolate or wine in front of a fireplace. And living in NorCal, I get to do that. It’s like magic. Almost everyone I’ve met is friendly and open. I’ve made new friends. I have a temp job that pays decently, and I work part-time pouring wine on weekends for a winery that I love love love. The owners are another set of ‘adoptive’ parents (I have a few). My aunt and uncle are fabulous people, and my eight-year-old cousin is just as crazy as I am. I feel like a big sister, and I’ve never gotten to be that before. I feel loved, but not in a smothering, oppressing way. I feel loved in a genuine, hey-we-are-here-for-you-no-matter-what kind of way. And it’s not just from my aunt and uncle. All of my friends and most of my family were incredibly supportive of my choice to move and try this whole West Coast thing out. I’ve realized how incredibly lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life, all across the world. Not everyone gets to have the support I’ve had, and continue to have. In short: being single is fucking awesome.
Of course there are bad days. Everyone gets lonely, whether you are single, dating, married, domestically partnered, etc. That’s the human condition. But I choose to recognize and realize that I am part of something vaster than I can comprehend, and generally speaking, I am happy. I am complete with myself. I have never been a believer in soul mates, or that one person has the possibility to complete me for the rest of my life; how is that possible? Every person grows and changes. We are all constantly evolving. The Nicole typing this now is a very different Nicole than the one who left Buffalo just shy of six months ago. Single Nicole is very different than caught-in-bad-relationship Nicole, who was very different from beginning-of-relationship-sunshine-and-roses Nicole. I have changed so much in the past ten months. I believe I have grown stronger and more secure. Ultimately, our opinions of ourselves are what really count. I’m fucking amazing. So are you.
I’m also ecstatic that I have realized my potential to flourish outside the confines of a romantic relationship, because who knows when the next one could begin? Every day is full of possibilities. But I have a solid relationship with myself, now, to base and branch a relationship off of. I know that, for me, I am enough. All the casual dating is just for fun. Why not? I am still new to the area, still trying to figure it out and explore and discover what is around me. Mostly, it is a pretty good time.
Yet I have to confess: I have recently begun talking to someone that I think I would like to have stick around for a while. Even if it’s just a friendship for the moment; I am enjoying…whatever is going on. That in itself is a revelation for this current Nicole, who reviled relationships up until…recently, I guess. Not saying this is going to turn into an actual, serious relationship. It would be difficult; we don’t live in the same state. I have no clue what the future holds. I just realized that I am enjoying talking to someone and feeling things I have not felt in a long time. In a way, it’s just nice to know I still have the capacity to feel this kind of thing, however faintly, however fleetingly it lasts. I was pretty certain for a while that I would never, ever, commit myself to anyone again. (And I know you're reading this....hi. :))
When I originally started writing this post, I went on a long rant/tangent about my ex and our breakup(s). I realized, though, that once again, I was making my life about him. This is not about him. It is about me. I am important. I am fantastic. I am still forming. My status is metamorphosis and transformation. I am a phoenix, testing out her wings. Some days I’m in the ashes. Most days, however, I am soaring through the sky. Cue the Ani DiFranco: