So I’ve been single for a grand total of 5 days. It feels like the first few days of sobriety to me, like I’m frantically trying to reorganize my life without the presence of my ex in it anymore. I’m sleeping fewer hours and constantly trying to busy my mind with external stimuli. Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, WordPress, the New York Times and all those other news outlets. I’m texting friends more steadily. Avoiding too many reminders of him.
I keep thinking to myself: What do I do with all of my free mental space now? How do I use my emotional energy if it isn’t focused on someone else? How do I fill my days when I’ve already done my homework or gotten my errands done? What happens when I want physical closeness to someone? Am I capable of feeling intimate again? How long do I have to wait until I can even feel comfortable with the idea of dating again, let alone the act of it?
It’s been weird. Mostly because, well, this is a new situation that I’ve found myself in: single and sober and not looking to start anything new. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve downloaded & swiped through a few different dating apps, only to deactivate my accounts and delete the apps within a few hours of getting them. I’ve done this with maybe four different apps. Every fiber of my being feels this strange repulsion to the idea of trying to open myself up to someone else, even marginally, yet I’m dogpaddling through the uncharted waters of singlehood and I don’t know how to handle it anymore.
I have not been truly, 100% single for 11 years. I’m 28. I’ve always been in pursuit of someone, pursued by someone else, or taken. I’ve been married and in February, I’ll be 3-years divorced. I’ve always been in constant search of affection and connection with someone. And now, after leaving the most stable yet boring and non-affectionate relationship I’ve ever had, I’m starting to feel like I need to intentionally draw myself away from the compulsion to find another warm body to comfort me and make me forget any of this happened.
I want to take a step back and really soak in the single life, yet I feel so uncomfortable about the idea of going longer than a month without meeting someone, kissing someone, hugging someone. I want to focus on becoming more familiar and comfortable with myself as a single sober person before I force my way back into the dating scene, yet I find my conscience hovering over the easy fix that is online dating. I want to stay away from the idea of dating, but I’m finding it difficult to actually do.
Just as in early sobriety, I am fighting with myself, knowing full well what the healthy thing is for me to do—be alone for now, focus on repairing my heart and moving forward—while fighting strong urges to jump right back into the dating pool without a second thought.
I think that for now, I am going to make a commitment to myself—for myself—to stay intentionally single and off of dating apps for a minimum of three months. Three months! That’ll take me into the new year with (hopefully) more clarity and a better understanding of myself and my needs.
Three months. I can do that, right? Hell, if I can stay sober for a year and three months as I have so far, I can handle three measly months of singlehood. I’ll be better off in the long run for it, anyhow.
Sigh. It’ll be a struggle for a while. I’m glad I have this place to continue writing and reflecting. I wonder where I’d be without it sometimes…