There was a moment in the recent past where I had a small piece of news to share, a compliment from a boss on my work or maybe a nice word from a client. It was a small gesture after a long week that made me feel that all the crazy emotions I’d been handling those previous days were worth it, that someone appreciated what I’d done. I started dialing mama B, but stopped, as she and I had barely talked all week so I would have to relive the crazy before getting to the good part, my news becoming a conclusion rather than the highlight of my day. I went to text my lovely friend M, but stopped, as I’d be seeing her the next day and it wasn’t something that needed to be shared right away. After running through my mental inventory of people who I would tell, thinking “meh, not her” or “eh, he wouldn’t care,” I finally stopped for a second and realized what was really going on. I sighed and stared at my phone, allowing just ten seconds to accept what was happening and move past it: I wish I could have told my ex.
One of the weirdest parts about single life is not having a ‘default’ person to share all your news. Much as my friends and family can celebrate with me, commiserate with me and cry with me when I have major news to share, it’s not the same as telling that same news to someone who’s seen you at your most vulnerable, your happiest and everything in between. Everyone will be happy for you if you share “I got the job!” or “I got the apartment!” but few people were there when you were crying on the couch about how unhappy you were after another Wednesday being taken through the ringer, or right after you saw the apartment of your dreams and couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s not that friends and family don’t appreciate your news, funny office stories or the fact that you made it to Starbucks before it got busy, but it won’t be the same as sharing that news, those stories or even the Starbucks with someone who cares as much as you do, because you do.
There’s an old joke from college, “if it isn’t on Facebook, it doesn’t exist,” which plays well into a single-situation as well. For a really long time, news wasn’t real until I could share it with him, someone who would share my excitement, or tears, frustration and elation. The first few times after the breakup I told M some minor news or an innocuous bit of trivia from my day, she smiled and laughed as she was supposed to, but I felt silly celebrating this not-even-a-milestone, self-consciously censoring myself more as time went on. I was prepared to live with the outwardly alone-esque aspects of single life, like finally getting the full comforter to myself and not waiting up for the “good night” text that rarely comes, but this has been a difficult adjustment. Celebrating my tiny milestone alone still feels foreign sometimes, like it’s not actually good news.
Yesterday I got a really wonderful compliment from a boss that I admire, peppering my entire day with smiles and a contented mood. I didn’t realize until this morning that I hadn’t discussed it with anyone – it didn’t come up when I spoke to mama B, haven’t felt the need to send anything to M. It’s not a secret, and obviously I’m happy it happened, but it felt okay to celebrate just me last night. As the six-months-single mark rapidly approaches, I’m still learning how to handle the little things that remind me I’m pretty much on my own, but as long as I can give myself 10 seconds to understand the moment and move on, I think I can handle the next six months and beyond.