You guys, sometimes we’re weary. I’m weary in different ways from my single friends, from my male counterparts. I knew that you single ladies needed another single lady to see you, to tell you you’re not alone. So for the next few Mondays, my lovely writer friend Cara Strickland is writing letters to you. I’m thrilled to host her words here as part of #LettersToWearyWomen. Be sure to pass her good words along.
Cara Strickland is a freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She writes about food, faith, singleness and relationships for a variety of publications in print and online. You can connect with her further on her website carastrickland.com.
Dear Weary Unmarried Woman,
I’m writing this letter to you, but I’m also writing it to myself, and it’s harder than I expected. There is no one size fits all letter that will work for all of us, just as there is no one letter that would work for any mother or wife.
Perhaps we can agree on this: sometimes being single is challenging. Whether it means that you’re the one who coordinates pet care when you go out of town, or that people don’t always invite you to their dinner parties, or that you wish for someone who might listen to the details of your day, I’m guessing that you occasionally run into a wall.
Whether you hope for marriage, or aren’t thinking about it right now, or feel that you are better on your own, you’re probably misunderstood sometimes. I’ve found that when I’m honest about wanting a relationship, people urge me to give my desire to God and to stop focusing on it, but when I tell them that I’m happy with singleness, they ask me to start dating online.
Maybe you’re tired of thinking about it so much at all and wish that people might ask you about something else. Maybe you’re hoping that someone will offer to set you up.
I’m not going to tell you to stop looking so you’ll find the one (I did that last time, and we still broke up). I’m not going to tell you that you should register for all the presents you’d hoped to have received by now (though I’ve been tempted). Along my journey, many people have said thoughtless and hurtful things. The helpful things stand out.
Allow yourself to feel how you feel. A friend once told me that I could choose not to engage with my emotions, but that they would only return, and usually stronger. If you’re sad, or lonely, or happy, or worried, or hopeful or depressed, or just done, be that, until you no longer are. Invite that emotion in and serve it a cup of tea. Find out what it wants with you.
You have nothing to prove to anyone who thinks that you should feel a certain way about your marital state, and most of all, you don’t have anything to prove to yourself.
Take only the advice that works for you. You don’t have to take a class, or date online, or lower your standards, or go to bars. You don’t have to wait to go on vacation, or change your personality or lose weight. You don’t have to recite a mantra about your desirability. You don’t have to hustle for a marriage, or for your friends (single or married).
If you’ve been holding back the hard parts of your life, consider being honest with a few select people. They will not find you a spouse (probably), or do your taxes for you (for free), but they might listen, and they might pray, and they might invite you to Easter dinner, or hold your hand when you have to go to the doctor and don’t want to do it alone. They might tell you they aren’t very strong either, and ask for your support as well.
I haven’t found a way to navigate the bad days. It’s convenient to blame singleness when I’m in the midst of one. Lately, I’ve been trying along with Brené Brown to believe that people are doing the best they can with what they have. While it’s sometimes hard to believe this when my friends tell me that they are jealous because they wish they could also have the whole bed to themselves, or when I’m on a really awkward date, usually it’s even harder to believe it about myself.
It might be hard to write something which will be true for so many people with varied experience, hopes, and dreams. But there is one thing that I know to be true for you, whoever you are (even if you’re not single). I’ll be the someone in Mary Karr’s poem for you today: “You are loved, someone said. Take that and eat it.”
I welcome your comments, emails and following along by subscribing (you’ll get my free book on telling your story, too!). Posts in the “Letters to Weary Women” series are linked to the first post in the Write 31 Days Challenge.