I love Christmas so much, and I just had a very nice one with my family.
Even so, I have to be honest- this was the most difficult Christmas season in recent memory.
When I wrote this, I was in the midst of four straight months of happiness. From my trip to Europe until about the beginning of November, almost everything seemed to be going right. My friends were great. Work was great. My writing was great. I’d even lost a bit of weight. (Uh, did not intend for that to sound like Dr. Seuss.) The one thing I didn’t have was a relationship, but I was feeling so terrific that I was like, “Hey, age twenty-nine is awesome! Maybe this is the period where I’m happy and comfortable and love will finally find me!”
But instead, what found me was the most frustrating two months of dating I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve been actively dating for over six years, so I do not say that lightly. That’s what I was feeling when I wrote this…and since then, it’s gotten worse and worse.
And it sounds so dumb, but despite all those great things still being great, and despite knowing that I don’t need a relationship to be happy (since I’ve never been in one, I’d be in trouble if that wasn’t true), being single suddenly seemed like the only thing that mattered.
And as things with dating kept getting worse, so did what I thought of myself. I started remembering every dumb thing I’ve said and done, every friend I’ve ever lost, every unkind thought and deed of mine, every physical flaw on my body—and I started to wonder why anyone would ever want to be with me.
Yeah, I know, that’s just digging myself further into the sadness hole. Pretty much every bit of advice they give you on finding love starts with, “Love yourself.” But you know what? When you’re twenty-nine and not only does no one love you, but no one has ever loved you, loving yourself becomes kind of hard.
When I wrote this, I was realizing it was hard to write about being happy. I didn’t want to sound obnoxious and braggy. But I’m realizing now that it’s hard writing about being sad as well. It’s one thing if you’re grieving someone who died, or if you’re going through a breakup or infertility or something legitimately devastating. And if you’re suffering from depression, people are familiar with that—and I think sometimes, people tend to pathologize sadness and tell you that you should see someone if you’re feeling down, even when you don’t meet the criteria for clinical depression.
But plain old sadness is harder to write about without seeming overdramatic or self-indulgent. I’m not going through anything like grief, and I’m not diagnosably depressed—there’s no anhedonia or feelings of hopelessness, just temporary sadness. Nothing’s changed to make me sad—the problem is that NOTHING has changed. And years of going through the holidays being single when you don’t want to be actually makes it harder, not easier, to go through it again.
I hesitated about writing about something this personal. But here it is, out there for everyone. I’ve been sad. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s still what I’m feeling now, and for those of you who have forgotten what being single feels like, just know that while there might be some people who are perfectly fine with being single around the holidays, even with all the couple-y ness it’s full of—there are also many people who aren’t.