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Relationship Status: Unavailable

About 6 months ago, I found myself on the receiving end of a breakup conversation. My boyfriend of 5 years came to me the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, early, while I was still in bed and said he didn’t think this was really going to work. I had been thinking the same things for weeks prior and enthusiastically voiced agreement. He was tearful. I was relieved – ecstatic actually, and from that point forward, we were housemates but no longer in a relationship.

My moment of mid-life clarity occurred in October 2021 and was like an explosion in my brain. I knew from the moment that I connected the dots of my four major adult relationships that I wasn’t going to be able to stay in my current relationship, despite the daunting idea of separating our lives and faux family. I was intentionally putting off initiating a separation conversation until after the holidays because of the logistics of our kids and co-ownership of a home.

The catalyst for my mind-set shift was the realization that every adult relationship I’ve participated in since the age of 18 included betrayal, triggers, constant anxiety and a perpetual state of fight-or-flight. A simple moment of self-reflection became truly life altering. I finally and clearly saw my pattern of repeatedly reconnecting with men who blatantly disregarded me on multiple levels and then optimistically but insanely expected to be comfortable in those relationships. Returning to these relationships caused a constant, subconscious level of anxiety that impacted how I behaved and responded to daily situations. Each time I returned to a damaged relationship, I was trying to recreate a value of myself that had already been shattered by unacceptable actions. Unfortunately this time around, it also included four wonderful, cohabiting kids and a mortgage.

My constant cycle of relational anxiety was completely my decision. Seeking love, acceptance, and a sense of validation kept me clinging to the idea of fixing broken relationships, when in all actuality, it was just prolonging the inevitable – the break up. Plagued with triggers, mistrust, anger and frustration, I kept trying to recreate the romance that was present at the beginning of each of these connections. Romance that always overlapped from relationship to relationship. In all those years, there was never a time when a relationship ended that I took a break for my own wellbeing, and then allowed a new relationship to form. I skipped along from one person to another, seeking security without taking the time to decompress, reflect, adjust, grieve, or just be me.

This break up was different. No one on the back burner, no side conversations, no secrets. No one waiting in the wings, no apps. My schedule was busy, but for the first time, fulfilling. Karate, baseball practice, second grade homework, early morning gym sessions, baskets of laundry and projects at work. There was no emotional distraction involved in my personal epiphany, which contributed greatly to my peace and processing of the situation. Despite ending the relationship in November, we continued to live under the same roof for many months. For the most part, things were cordial and considerate, basically ships passing in the port as we came and went, with only a few minor spats about the logistics of selling a house and separately purchasing. Even these disagreements though tended to result in productive conversations. We successfully, though sadly (for the kids’ sakes) separated our household and both stepped onto our individual peaceful paths.

This new solo life adventure has felt so pure and freeing. I feel light and clear and stable and productive. Like I’ve finally got my priorities in order. FINALLY! The only things I want are to be a wonderful, involved, patient mom and to take care of myself holistically. I feel myself softening emotionally, my prior walls slowly being washed with the tears that occasionally fill my eyes. I look at my child and beam, feeling like my chest will burst with my love for him. I speak to him with more compassion and a desire to guide this little human on a better course than I chose. I am more present with my family and able to freely give my time to them.

Feeling such a sense of contentment in my solitude is still occasionally unsettling for me. After years to clinging desperately to others, it still feels a little strange to stand alone. Strange in an amazing way though. Refreshing. But it has also been unsettling to see how others view my singleness. People are constantly asking if I’m dating or when I’m going to start dating or recommending someone they think would be great for me. It was during one of these conversations that I finally said to a good friend of mine, “I may be single, but I am not available.”

Despite the periodic twinges of loneliness, this new found freedom and peacefulness coupled with a lack of desire to put any effort toward the fostering of a relationship makes me truly unavailable. My precious time is reserved for those closest to me and for activities that bring me joy. I’m not about to risk my relaxing river float for the emotional rapids of a relationship. Plus, my standards have risen to the height of an Olympic pole vault bar. I have gained such a value for myself that I do not have the patience to entertain the idea of people who are not willing to, or simply cannot, meet or exceed the bar.

The best thing I’ve ever been in my life is unavailable. It has opened so many doors. My motherhood continually evolves, my friendships have deepened and progressed, my family engagement is gratifying, my work satisfying, and my time is disciplined, harmonious, pleasant and calm. Every day feels like a deep, relaxing breath on a beautiful path to my best, safest, most peaceful self.

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