I had a marvelous mentor named Patricia who reminded me frequently, “Don’t make the mistake of attaching your love to another person.” She went on to say, “Realize that their love is reflected through you, it does not originate from them. They are not your source of love—you and your inner wise self are.”
I embraced this message wholeheartedly and wrote this in my journal: “Release yourself from the voices of inner critics who will tell you outdated messages from long ago about how you ‘should’ love, or how other people love, or how if you don’t love another you’ll die all alone in a nursing home in winter in a shared room.”
I began to explore and practice new ways to be what I described as “soulfully single,” while also describing myself as open to love with another person. To me, soulfully single sounded and felt so much richer and deeper than just “single.”
My friend Val had said to me, after I had ended a love relationship, “Whatever you do, don’t close your heart to love.” She intuited that I’d already begun trying to close my heart and seal it off so I wouldn’t feel that kind of pain again. So I resolved to keep my heart open and available for love. And I secretly thought that it wouldn’t happen anyway, so what did I have to lose?
I practiced opening myself to new ways of doing and being, and learning even more about how to state my preferences clearly and directly in relationships with others. I used to either overstate my preferences or hide them—even from myself.
In my friendships, I started being more willing to practice telling and receiving microtruths—those seemingly tiny, often unspoken little things that sometimes get swept under the carpet until it feels like the carpet is so lumpy that you can’t walk on it anymore. I wanted my friendships to be positive, current and free from unnamed hurts and irritations. For the most part this worked beautifully, and I kept my heart open to love in ways I hadn’t previously imagined.
As I developed and lived my soulfully single life, I noticed that lots of other women were experimenting with something similar. They had full, rewarding, satisfying lives and work, and yet were open to love with another person arising or arriving unexpectedly. They also said they felt fine if it didn’t happen.
When people asked my relationship status, I would reply, “I’m soulfully single,” and most would swoon over that description and ask me to describe it further. Some would share that they still wanted romantic love but were no longer willing or able to sacrifice or compromise to get it. Everyone said they wouldn’t “settle.” For me, settling meant having just part of what I wanted, and I knew I wanted way more than that.
It reminded me of my career: at age 26 I’d resolved to be and live as an artist and writer—no matter what. I made the decision to live that way, all the way, even if it meant I wouldn’t have much food or money. Prior to that, I’d had over 250 different jobs, trying to find something that could support me while I explored my creative gifts. As they say, hindsight is always 20-20, and I just made it up as I went along—as we all do.
I knew that if I was going to add another person into my soulfully single life, I wanted to feel succulent, wild, intimate real love. I wanted to swirl with love, I wanted 110 percent. I wanted the whole magilla (What is a magilla, anyway?). I wanted him or her to be my willing, wholehearted emergency contact. I wanted the person who could show up, stand up, be there with me and with life. I wanted true blue. I also wanted a self-entertaining unit—someone who was also soulfully single and could be alone and self-nourishing. I wanted a person who felt good about him or herself and about life. I wanted another life lover.
I wanted a mate—one for my soul and for play.
I wanted someone who would respect and admire my soulfully single self. I knew that being soulfully sngle wasn’t substandard, but sometimes inner critics would rise up when I would see or hear other people describe it differently. I attended a friend’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, and after all the toasts and even a short film about their wonderful union, they asked for people to stand and share how the couple’s love and marriage had informed their lives.
A number of women stood and described themselves as “strays” who had been taken in by this loving couple. I knew they were just sharing their experience, but I felt enraged that perhaps that’s how others had seen me—as a stray. And of course my inner critics were busy confirming that I was one. I ranted and raved to my friend who was with me, about what I call the “tyranny of couples,” and how unfair it sometimes feels to single people. (She loves pointing out that I met my beloved two weeks later.)
Being soulfully single and open for love felt right for me. Others may just wish to be soulfully single—or just single. I’m glad we’re all redefining love for ourselves and what feels best for each of us.
Excerpted from Succulent Wild Love ©2015 by SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) and Dr. John Waddell. SARK is a best-selling author and artist with 16 titles in print. Dr. John has been helping individuals and couples lead happier lives for more than 30 years through his clinical psychology practice and metaphysical teachings.
Printed with permission of New World Library.