February 27, 2019

When It Takes Courage To Be Single

What I most want singles to know is: singleness is not a deficiency.

This statement came to my attention as part of the feedback from my Singles Wellness Survey. (If you haven't taken it, please do.). At first glance, this statement seems like it should go without saying! Yet one only needs to look at what society has deemed normative, to discover that singleness is viewed as anything but normal.

This morning during my Facebook time I was assaulted by ad after ad telling me that I needed to pair up! Dating site ads were interwoven throughout my news feed with captions about men ready, willing, and able to take on a wife, take me out on a date, or sweep me off my feet! (Insert cough! cough! eye roll! ROFL! So much I could say here but I'll try to stay on topic.) The underlying message to our singleness during our most vulnerable moments, or worse, feeding our subconscious minds (and assaulting our souls) is "you are not enough", "click here and you'll get all your longings filled", "you would be better off with someone rather than in the sorry state you are in now - single!" If you listen really closely those are examples of the subliminal messages singles read, hear, and see all around us. Subtle. Not subtle!

Now I'm not blaming society (or even Facebook ads) for the pressures singles feel to date, pair off, couple, marry, or partner up. It goes far deeper and wider than that. What's most important is what I think about myself, where I'm choosing to get my needs met, and what choices I'm going to make moving forward. And this journey is why I'm choosing to spend my talents, time and energy cheerleading other singles to embrace their single season - to give them freedom and permission to just be single.

Not only is singleness not a deficiency but I believe it's an opportunity! Singleness is full of possibility when you're ready to see it that way. Regardless of what life stage you are single in, a mindset to lean into this season could be a game-changer for you. It could mean a fuller life in the here and now, as well as in your future, and most likely a more fulfilling (next) relationship if you choose to couple again.

At this point, I want to acknowledge that individuals who are single are coming from many different lived experiences, circumstances, and reasons they arrived at being single.

Some of you reading this have not yet found a partner in life (and have a deep deep longing for that). I want to say something to you. I wish to tell you that I see you too and acknowledge that the concept of Embracing Single might seem almost, well, cruel. And so I want you to know that I cheer for you too - to find that love that you so long for. Embracing Single doesn't mean we shut down our longings. Longings are longings. There is no shame in a longing! They tell us that we are alive and remind us that we are made to be loved! They are meant to be felt. They are a part of the fabric of our humanness. You have every right to long for and dream for that special someone. You're designed for that. However, how and when that longing gets fulfilled might turn out to look very different than you dreamed it would be. What an adventure! For now, do you think you might embrace single not as a resignation of your aloneness but as a way to gently lean into the season you are in? And while you do that, would you allow others to journey with you while we cheer you on in your singleness and in your desire to find that special relationship? I hope that feels comfortable for you. Embracing Single is for you too. Take courage.

Some did not become single by choice. And some of you became single because you made the decision to remove yourself from an abusive or toxic relationship. Some of you may still be in such emotional pain from your past relationship that facing singleness, now and into your future, has left you paralyzed with fear. Others may be in a place where you can't think or don't want to think "single" because you don't want to be "single!" Others find themselves on the hamster wheel of serial dating or relationship cycling, constantly succumbing to the pressures from within and from all around that you are somehow deficient because you're single so you must couple. For some, your singleness is fresh and seeing this season as "possibility" or "opportunity" is simply too soon. That's okay too. You'll be okay. And there are many singles who are thriving and not struggling in their singleness whatsoever. This is likely because they are further along into their journey as a single and they are... Embracing Single.

To all who are single and struggling in any way, I want to be a gentle voice of encouragement that reminds you that there will be good days ahead. I want you to know there is hope - even in your single season. Most of all that you are not alone and that there are others who are walking this journey too. If you would permit me to coach you for a moment by challenging you to think about one thing that is possible (something that gives you peace or even joy) because of your singleness and go from there, but when you are ready. This is when singleness takes courage.

Here are a few more things that singleness is not.
... is not a bad thing.
... does not mean that you will be single forever (unless you choose to be).
... does not make you lesser of a person in any way, no matter what emphasis on coupling family, culture, church, or any other societal pressures you perceived to be as truth about singleness versus coupling (marriage).

For the churched folks: the Bible talks about singleness as a gift. I think most of us church kids grew up in a culture within a culture that emphasized marriage as the ultimate go-to for adulthood. That notion, pressure, belief - whatever you want to call it - has lead a lot of us church kids down self-destructive paths. Let me say that I believe that marriage is a beautiful and sacred thing but it isn't a union that makes us more complete as an individual. This is a complex topic and for another blog. I merely wanted to point out that singleness is revered in the Bible and as a kid who grew up in the Church I wish I had seen singlness as more of an option. Being single in the Church takes courage. If any of you have ever walked into a church service on a Sunday (or any church event) as a single person, you know what I'm talking about! This is a worth-while conversation but again for another time. I want to encourage churches to see singles, embrace singles, and minister to them in their singleness.

Here are my top 3 reasons that I believe singleness takes courage:

1. Singleness takes courage when you stop and take inventory of oneself, your past patterns and behaviors, and take responsibility for what you are responsible for as to why your past relationships have not worked out. As much as your single season can be an exciting season, it can also be hard work. It takes courage to know thyself. It's humbling. It's frustrating at times and it's easier to remain on the hamster wheel then to get off. Some things you're going to love about yourself. Other things may appear ugly. But the sheer courage to stop and do the work is a decision one should feel proud of!

2. It takes courage to take time out to be single in a world where it seems like everyone else is a couple. Of course, we know statistically, this is not true. In my previous blog, I pointed out that there are now more single households in Canadain history than ever before. But the perception that everyone has someone, especially, when that is a deep longing you have, can be painful. It takes courage to say that you, in all of your singleness glory, are enough! (Note to self: future Instagram post!)

3. Singleness can be financially daunting. Everyone who has lived alone and been completely responsible for the roof over your head, for every bill and expense, knows that this is a tremendous responsibility in an expensive world. It takes courage to be single when there is no financial safety net of another person's income. Then there's the future. Perhaps you are without a steady job, or a pension, and have had a life where it was difficult to accumulate savings. This isn't ideal but it's a reality many singles face. It takes courage to face the future as a single.

In the comments below, please complete the sentence: "It takes courage to be single when..." I would be interested to hear what you think.

In the meantime, please connect with our Embracing Single Group on the Meetup.com. You can find our group Embracing Single, Conversations for Singles in Greater Victoria on there. I am open to hosting more singles groups in person or online as momentum builds. Let's build a community where we can encourage each other to take courage!

Because every one counts,


February 19, 2019

Embracing Single.

Singles Wellness
Dear Sojourners,

Permit me to make a statement. Then I will write a little about what it took for me to arrive at this statement.

I encourage singles to explore self-awareness and opportunities for personal growth. Clients I work with are looking to remain single, even for a season, so that they can heal from past hurts and become fully alive in their individuality, whether or not they choose to couple again. I am not pro single nor am I against coupling. I am for the individual embracing their single season to work on self, and, while doing so, finding and building healthy communities that nurture their wholeness and wellness.

If you haven't asked yet, I'll save you the trouble. The answer is "YES." Yes, this is very much my journey, my own story. Now that we have that out of the way, here's what I want to say.

My journey to this moment, this post, this mission, has been long. It has taken my entire adult life and brought with it elements of childhood. It is the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life's path. It has been painful and more recently it has been most joyful. I have been prideful yet have arrived at this moment most humbled. I have been stubborn and that has sustained me. I have been broken and brokenness has helped qualify me.

This moment is years and tears in the making. Failed relationships, yet all along my way incredible, unmistakably God-orchestrated timely, loving friendships. Poor decisions yet embraced and graced by others with wise counsel, professional counselling, and mentoring. An unwillingness to learn taking comfort and shelter in my blind spots but eventually a necessary and earnest search, self-study, and formal education resulting in a toolkit brimming with new and sharpened skills. Career, ministry, family, and business. Successes on mountain tops and hard lessons in a heap of depression. It all has come to this vocational focus: Singles' Wellness: Embracing Single.

Take a quick Google search, and you will find topics of wellness such as health and wellness, seniors' wellness, fitness wellness; even a recent Globe and Mail article warning readers about the "wellness" trap. (It's a great read). So many resources and services are devoted to all sorts of relationship issues, marriage support, dating advice (ad nauseam), but what about taking time to get "wellness" before a new or next relationship?

When I say I promote "Singles' Wellness", I mean I am for singles taking time out in their "single season" to work on individuation. And that being self-actualization, self-realization, breaking co-dependant mindsets and beliefs, and becoming a healthy independent. Further, I believe this process is only possible and successful while in connection with a healthy, nurturing community.

I'm for those of us who have been through multiple relationships in our adulthood, including marriage(s) and/or those who are serial daters, to step off the proverbial hamster wheel and just stop. This stop or pause (whatever is comfortable for you and for however long you need) could be the most exciting, enriching, and exhilarating time in your adult life. And warning, this pause could lead to a healthier you and quite possibly, if you chose to, a healthier coupling relationship down the road!

My quirky creative mind that loves words came up with this wee phrase this morning (even before my first cup of coffee) to get my message out with a gentle nudge of humour:

"Wait! Before you date... individuate!"

See how I did that? It rhymes and everything.

Here's what I know to be true. There are many hard things about being single. In future blogs, I will share some results of a survey I'm currently conducting where I'm getting feedback from real people on this topic. (Here's the link if you'd like to take the Singles Wellness Survey.)

There are many fears that can be associated with singleness. This includes fear of living alone, growing old alone or financially surviving on a single income. (These fears are valid; however, they might not be the best driver for making relationship decisions! I will be addressing fear-based living and decision-making in future blogs.) I don't believe we are designed to be alone but it is fact that many of us are.

Did you know that singles are making Canadian history? According to the latest Canadian household census, there are more one-person households than ever before in our history! Gloria Galloway, Journalist with the Globe & Mail, writes in her article on the latest Statistics Canada Census 2016, “For the first time in the country's history, the number of one-person households has surpassed all other types of living situations. They accounted for 28.2 percent of all households last year, more than the percentage of couples with children, couples without children, single-parent families, multiple family households and all other combinations of people living together.”

And so we have more single households than ever before. But we also kmow that we need others to be healthy - emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically. In his book The Different Drum, Community Making and Peace, M.Scott Peck writes,
"The truth is we can never truly be whole in and of ourselves."
This is why I simultaneously want to promote singleness and community. This, on the surface, appears like a no-brainer but "community" in its most authentic sense of the word is harder to attain than one might think. I want to help singles build safe, nurturing communities just as much as I want to see singles soar to new heights of individuality and wholeness! I believe they are mutually exclusive. You'll hear more about this in future blogs and workshops too!

Embracing Single could possibly be one of the greatest personal breakthroughs, adventures, and journeys of your lifetime. I could practically guarantee the life-changing consequences of making an intentional decision to embrace your singleness!

I'm going to conclude with a list of synonyms of "embracing" for you to soak in. I challenge you to take this concept of "Embracing Single" and imagine yourself actually physically embracing your singleness. Lean into it as if it's a friend not a foe. And I mean all of it. All of its pain, its fears, its joys, and its adventure. Treat each of these words like a melty Lindor chocolate. Feel the feels. Then notice what you are feeling. Baby steps. Are you ready to Embrace Single?
Welcome. Accept. Receive. Enthusiastically/Wholeheartedly Take-Up. Take to heart. Adopt. Seize. Hold. Cuddle. Clasp. Squeeze. Clutch. Grab. Clinch. Nuzzle. Caress. Hug. Enfold. Clasp. Hug. Enfold. Clasp. Bear Hug. Cradle. Bosom. Envelop.
As always, feel free to reach out melaniejoyhart@icloud.com.

Because Every One Counts,

Melanie Hart