Ever since my divorce, I’ve played all the possible roles a divorced dude can play.
I’ve worn genuine grief and sorrow like a cheap suit. I’ve smashed my fat head against the proverbial wall of regret so often that the wall is gone; once a tall and solid part of my world, I reduced it to a heap of dust on my living room floor.
Tears? Oceans. Fears? A galaxy full. Punching myself in the face? Oh, yes.
I’ve been wandering out across long stretches of over-thinking — everything from how much our three young kids mean to me to what went wrong in the marriage.
I’ve thought about abandoning the idea of true love forever. I’ve stared at the walls and asked myself if I wouldn’t be better off just bouncing around from one hot random sexual liaison to another.
In the midst of true heartbreak, we long for carefree and casual.
Night after night, I’ve thought long and hard about every angle/facet/detail about what I’m supposed to do with this crumbled past I carry around in my hands, like some three-year-old snot-nosed kid hauling around a smashed slice of his own birthday cake.
What am I supposed to do with all this? Could you do me a favor and just get rid of it for me?
Anyone who tells you that divorce was exciting or enjoyable for them is either a pure idiot or they hadn’t been in love with the person they divorced for so long that divorce is probably the wrong word altogether.
They should just call it something else like “deadtome.” They should go around saying, “We’re deadtome,” not “We’re divorced.”
My divorce hurt and I was left spinning, and in a lot of ways, I’m still spinning.
But something’s changed lately: I’m getting high on the Zen of being single. That’s the right word, trust me: Zen.
Being alone is a choice I’ve arrived at on my own — not because I can’t get a date because I’m repulsive, but because I’m wandering into a place where I intrinsically know I belong right now. And that’s an awesome feeling.
We’re living in a time and culture where the whole idea of being single doesn’t really mean being single at all.
And for a while there I was actually believing the hype, buying into this whole notion that being single could only mean that you were on fire with the desire to find the right person to fill all those un-fillable needs in your unquenchable soul.
Whenever I scrolled down my Facebook feed, it was always one article after another about couples in love, couples who hate each other, how love really works, foods that make you a better lover for your partner, how to find the right soulmate at that bad job where you work, why you absolutely should demand a partner who likes the same overplayed kink in the bedroom that you like even though, truth be told, everyone else in the world likes it too, and also, you probably suck in the sack and won’t admit it.
Then a few weeks ago, I’d finally had it. Forget all that noise, I thought to myself. I’m 43. I need to catch my breath. I’d rather put a bullet in the roof of my mouth than fire up Tinder at this juncture.
And just like that, I began to understand what you may or may not already realize: it’s mostly all BS.
Everything that people expect you to do after divorce or heartbreak — even everything that people hope or dream for you to do when you’re just starting out in this life but you don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend — it’s all just utter BS.
People are simple-minded gerbils, mostly. People are just scared for you to be alone because most people are scared of being alone themselves.
Until, that is, you’re finally alone.
Until you can think about yourself by yourself for a change.
Until you can find the time to deconstruct all the relationship vines you’ve been caught up in for so long and leave them in a heap over in the corner of the garage or out on the fire escape.
Until there’s no one else but you now. And so, now what?
Until one evening you plop down on the couch, have a glass of wine, dump some chips in a bowl, and flip on The Walking Dead and slowly start to understand that, hey, this is kind of the best date you’ve ever been on in your entire life.
Being single is where so many of us need to be — not just for ourselves but for the world at large, too. We need to not be smearing ourselves all over the night and other single people’s lives when we don’t have any right to be.
We’ll know when our time has come. We’ll know when we’re ready when we’re feeling something right and true inside. We’ll know when we might need to fall in love again — or for the first time in our life.
I’ll know. And I know that I’ll know.
But until then, this hanging out with myself has been mystical. I’ve warmed up to the undiluted Zen of it all, to the simple joys of being by myself and talking to myself and falling asleep by myself to the beat of my very own heart.
Or, I’ve finally just gone completely insane. I can’t even tell.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in October 2015.
Serge Bielanko is a writer and musician who has been published on Babble, Huffington Post, Mom.me, Yahoo, and more. Visit his website for more of his work.