Single and whole

I don’t remember being asked about who I was dating before I graduated from college. After graduation, the question came up more frequently. When I was in my late 20’s it dawned on me that my lack of desire to date was not normal. I have always been attracted to men but why wasn’t I dating?  Now in my early 30’s the questions have morphed into why are you single or when are you getting married and my new favorite are you a lesbian? I have to admit these questions were triggering for me. I haven’t dated and the inquiries triggered my since of feeling damaged for not participating in this social norm. I could always masked that feeling with a witty response. “When they start handing out good men at Target, I’ll be the first to grab one up.” Or give a more philosophical quip. “I just haven’t meet anyone yet that I have connected with in a meaningful way, but when I do you’ll get the first call.” Both are true but the deeper truth is I had no business being in a romantic relationship until I truly dealt with my unhealthy relationship with myself.

When people asked me why am I single, I wished they would have been asking me are you whole? I also wished I had the courage to say, you know I am currently seeing a counselor who specializes in childhood sexual abuse because I was molested when I was in the 1st grade. Followed by skipping right into a C cup bra by 5th grade. Which lead to tons of sexual attention from grown men and my male peers. Peers who I used to just be “one of the guys.” We played basketball and had rap battles together.  Now things have changed and I don’t know how to handle it. I vividly remember being 15 years old when I work in the mall food court. This guy my Dad’s age, like 50 years old, told me I had sexy my lips. As he licked his lips and looked at me lustfully, like a predator. I wished I could chop my lips off on the spot!! Or all the men who would approach me and not run the other way when I told them I was 13. It’s hard to reconcile an attraction to men and a fear of what their attraction to me would bring. I didn’t get the normal introduction to sex. I’ve felt like sexual prey from the time I was 6 years old. So at some point I subconsciously made myself invisible. My beauty was a curse. Do not celebrate it. Do not enhance it. Do not invite that attention. Build your walls. Protect your innocence.  Do not be vulnerable. Do not be prey. Do not need. Do not desire love and affection, those are dangerous. Hide your shame. Carry the pain of it all secretly, so you don’t risk exposing how damaged you feel to anyone. All of this damaged had to be repaired before I could be in any relation of any kind.

I am no longer asking anyone if they are single. I am asking them if they are whole. Being in a relationship does not cure any holes you have in your soul. They might treat the symptoms of those holes but you have to be your own plug. I saw a quote recently that said “You leak what you carry.” I can’t say that this is true for all but it has damn sure been true for me. I leaked a lack of desire to be adored, loved, and wanted or to be in romantic partnership. After a couple of years of therapy and buckets of tears, I am finally in a healthy relationship. With myself! Technically, I am still single but most importantly, I am whole. I recognize that the totality of my lived experiences is greater than the unfortunate episodes I endured. I am not saying every day is sunshine and rainbows. The shit I went through sucked. It’s taking a lot of hard work, praying, crying, and learning. I mean that ugly, snotty nose, Viola Davis in Fence crying.  I learned that feeling damaged and defective were alternative facts I had been telling myself.  I was a victim but I don’t have to remain one. I do not want a pity party, I just want to share my truth. I prayed to God for help and she led me to myself. I had to stop letting what happened to me dim my light. I had to stop hiding. The light is still there even when a dark cloud is present. Don’t forget to shine your light. I’ve learned that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. I am the only one who could rescue me from my pain. I have great friends and family who have been tremendous in reminding me that I am loved.  And they let me love them back. But every day I have to love myself enough to fight to maintain my joy. I used to feel damaged but now I feel restored. I stopped carrying shame and started carrying joy. I flirt! I desire love and affection. I do not fear being wanted. I trust my ability to discern from who I have prayed for and for who looks to prey upon me. I welcome a healthy relationship but I refuse to look at my singleness as a personal deficiency.

In the lyrics from one of my favorite songs I say to whoever reads this, “I wish you joy and happiness but above all thing I wish you LOVE!” Love for and from God, love for yourself and healthy fulfilling relationships with everyone in your life.

“You do not need another person, place or thing to make you whole. God already did that. Your job is to know it.” Maya Angelou

 “Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child.”  If you have or know someone who has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Please seek help. Talk to a mental health professional. Contact the authorities. Most importantly know that the shame doesn’t belong to you.

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