I found myself in Whole Foods just hours ago, stocking up on zinc, matzo ball soup, and a 24 ounce green juice. And guys, I was cranky. Like: super annoyed at all other human beings because it was raining and no one knows how to navigate the Whole Foods parking lot even on a good day, but mostly because I have been knocked down with a cold. And for me, there is only one thing I like less than being sick with a cold: being sick with a cold while single. Which, as you may have inferred, hasn’t happened much, so I don’t have a lot of practice.
I get ultra sensitive when I don’t feel well, and am that difficult type of sick person who mostly wants to be left alone, but also wants to know that someone will insist on bringing me green juices and soup and giving me a snuggle. But just a small snuggle, before leaving me alone so I can listen to Ira Glass be amazing in peace as I nod off.
All of my exes were really good at taking care of me when I was sick. And I was really good at taking care of them, because it’s sort of a specialty of mine. And, I do know how to take care of myself—see the Whole Foods shopping reference above—but it’s just not the same when you’re sick. There’s something about knowing that you can take care of yourself, but also knowing that when you don’t feel well, there is someone there to heat up soup for you. Someone who loves you and is demonstrating that love for you at a time when you feel physically awful.
It’s funny, because I was eating Indian food with my dear friend Seth the other day, and explaining that the Love Detox was going so well, my only concern was that it was going too well; maybe I would want to stay single forever—this was so much easier! So much more fun! So much less stress!
Because there has been a great deal of this process, especially recently, that has been wonderful: I’m getting to know myself better than I ever have. I’m learning who I am outside the context of a relationship, and it’s a potent time in my life—I can feel it. I’ve been cooking again, and hosting people for dinners, being more social, going to yoga. I’ve restarted my daily (OK, almost daily) meditation practice and have been reading some terrific books. In essence, I have taken the considerable energy that was once focused on my relationships and have shifted it inward. And it’s making a difference. It feels great.
But, here’s the part I don’t think I realized while eating more than my fair share of garlic naan (sorry, Sethie) and shrieking with glee about the benefits of singledom: being in a relationship isn’t what “kept” me from the feelings of happiness and peace I’m experiencing now. Instead, it’s how I framed those relationships—the level of importance I gave them and my willingness to put the relationship and the other person and their preferences first no matter what, ultimately losing myself and cutting off the self-fed nourishment that keeps me happy and healthy, in the process.
I think I’ve been onto something with my default “I-Have-a-Cold” behavior: perhaps the formula for a healthy relationship is knowing that you can take care of yourself 100% of the time, while doing it 95% of the time, and being willing to lean on someone else for that remaining 5%. Not because you have to, or they should, but because there are times when it’s nice to let someone bring you soup, and cuddle you, and then leave you alone with Ira.
But, until then: I am so lucky to have the world’s most amazing girlfriends. I received no less than five different check-in texts this morning, asking how I was feeling and if I needed anything. Because, as Carrie says at the end of a scene in SATC, when a sleep-deprived Samantha has the flu and sobs that she’s all alone (or as I refer to it, the “Fanta/Cough Syrup episode): “We are not alone. We have each other.”
She’s right. And I am so lucky to have all of you.