I’m having the most difficult time with this particular blog post. Writing to those who love the unmarried feels deeply vulnerable. It involves uncovering my feelings, saying what I need, owning what I want and trusting others, those who love me in particular, with it.
I could write a general blog post where I speak about these things in comfortable ways, but that feels dishonest in a series where I’ve already uncovered more of my self than that which I’m really comfortable. And, I can only write about what singles need to thrive, based upon my own needs and those who have chosen to disclose what they need to me. Truth be told, the things others have told me they need, for the most part, are what I need too. So I am bumping up against vulnerability walls.
When I get real honest, I mean the kind of honest that feels painful, even though I’m just getting honest with myself, I often don’t know what I need. Like all people, I at times don’t know I have a hope, need or a want for something until that something doesn’t happen. This is what makes it difficult to love someone who is single and meet them in their need and help them thrive. (ACTUALLY, this is what makes it difficult to love someone who exists. Most of us don’t know what we want and therefore it’s hard to meet a need or desire that is unknown. That is a human thing, not a single thing. But, again we are talking about singles here) To survive and even thrive during this season as a single it takes trial and error. It is not static, meaning, what I want this year, might be different than next.
With all that said here goes…
The Christmas season can be challenging for me. It highlights the fact that I don’t have a family of my own and it can often feel like I get lost in the shuffle. I don’t always know where I belong. Yes, I belong to my family, but by now, I’m the only single sibling and my sisters are both establishing traditions within their own families.
I wonder is it alright for me to make traditions with family that I choose too? Do I get to prioritize my schedule with my friend family the same way that my sisters prioritize time with their family unit? I wonder Mom, Dad? does it hurt you when I do that? I wrestle a lot. I want to show up for everything and at times it feels like I show up for everything and it reminds me that I have little to invite someone else to show up for.
I at times get weary of inviting. There isn’t the same felt weight coming to a dinner party to meet friends, as there is in going to be with another’s family. I also have to work my schedule around others’ children’s plays, performances, school parties, date nights, family nights and the like. All of these are so incredibly important. I don’t get angry about showing up. I don’t feel like people need to stop showing up for their children, spouses and families for me. I don’t feel like it is insensitive to choose to be with your spouse and family. But,I do feel it. And, it can feel like an imbalance. I feel the lack of commonality. I feel the drive too and from places. I feel how different my life looks. Different doesn’t mean bad, it simply means different. And I feel it.
With family, the traditions and excitement around Christmas involve my niece and nephews. I love it. I love buying them gifts. I love giving experiences. I love creating memories. And, when my sister bundles the kids up to go home with her husband, I get in my car and drive away alone. I don’t always feel it with sadness or with heavy weight, but I always notice. It would be so kind to have someone who notices with me. (Not with words necessarily, but by leaving with love that is intentional.)
I feel like I miss out on things. I don’t have the firsts that the rest of my family has experienced. I miss out on watching someone I love, with the love of parent to their child or from spouse to spouse, while they open the thought out and uniquely chosen gift I had in mind. (I must insert that I know sometimes it is probably hurtful to get an unplanned, not thought out gift. I know it must also be so hurtful to being forgotten by someone or the kids not appreciating what you purchased for them or the stress of making it come together… but this blog is not about those things) Even if I’ve romanticized the idea, I don’t know the difference because I’ve never experienced it.
I also love the traditions I’ve made. I love the plans I make. I love filling my life with rich and good and diverse things and experiences. This doesn’t mean I’m running from something, it doesn’t mean I’m too busy, for me, it means I’m choosing to live. I’d love if you asked me about the things in which I am involved. I’d love for you to know the names of my friends the way I know your husband, wife, and children’s names. I’d love for you to ask how an event was I was throwing and be interested in my life that is. Not the life that isn’t.
Being single isn’t a curse. But it is often ignored and treated like one. When conversations happen around tables and in living rooms and at parties ask me questions about my life. Ask me things that see me as I am, instead of what I’m not.
The best way you can help me, as your single daughter, sister, friend during this season is to see me as I am, love me, and invite me into relationship. Give me space and permission to feel what I am feeling. Remember me. See me. Include me. Let me host something. (Recently I heard of a family who were all traveling to be with the single sibling. The WHOLE FAMILY. It is easier to get one person somewhere, but the impact of an entire family, traveling for the one, validates their adulthood, their home, and says we care about you and it’s important you know you are as important to us to make the effort as it is that you make the effort over and over and over again.)
Even when you think I won’t want to wrap your kids’ presents with you, ask anyway… then, as we are wrapping, ask me about important things having to do with the “children” of my life. Stop by my house. I am telling you, there is almost nothing more meaningful to me than someone making the effort to come to me. I know it takes coordination and you have to bundle up the whole family or wait until the kids go to bed, but that one act will tell me you love me in a very powerful way.
Ask me what I want. If I can’t answer, ask in another way. If I still can’t answer, let me know that my wants are welcome.
Helping a single survive the Christmas Season is simply taking the time to love him or her where they are. As I began this post, I felt vulnerable, but now realize the things about which I’ve been writing are universal in some respect, and by no means are they too much or pathetic. (which is often the fear of the single female)
There are uniqueness to being single for certain, but those uniquenesses do not isolate us. We often choose isolation as a way to cope. It is not your job as the friend of a single to MAKE us feel loved, seen and known. That is actually our work. We are not entitled to special treatment because we are not married. BUT, our needs and experiences are different and thus we might need different things to feel included, loved and known. It is our work to believe in our created image, innate value and to engage life being present to and not trapped by circumstance. It is yours, as our friends and families, to love us as we are. To get to know us, get curious about our lives and experiences and love us with inclusion, effort, and persistence.
No, I didn’t give you 10 ways to love your single loved one. Love isn’t a check list. Jesus as he walked loved by seeing and responding with compassion and then doing something. This Christmas Season pray that you are given eyes to see those in your life, ask that your compassion increases for him or her and when prompted or invited… do something, act and love!