As an adult in my mid forties, I now feel so much more joyful and complete in myself than I have ever done. My relationship with myself and with life has turned, which to me has been miraculous.
From when I was a child to well into my adult life I lived with an inner bleakness. I didn’t love myself, or being a single woman, or my own company… and had no idea what a true relationship with myself would look like.
When it came to relationships, and up until a few years ago, I was quite needy. I had little to no self-confidence and carried a deep lack of self-worth. I was always seeking approval of others, to be liked by them to boost my self-esteem. I developed a way of being nice so that I would get the response from them that I needed. I had always lived with other people; first with my family when I was growing up, and then in my twenties and thirties I lived with housemates.
The thought of living on my own was out of the question as I didn’t think I could handle it and that I would feel lonely.
I thought I would be more complete with people around me and made the effort to build friendships and have a great social life – so that I did not have to be in my own company and which kept me distracted from feeling the pain of the judgments I had about myself. I struggled through life because of this. I was, however, very good at hiding how I felt about myself from the outside world. Looking at me from the outside everything was fine because in my thirties I owned a house and had a good job and I also loved to travel and had great holidays. Physically I had no complaints. I have a petite and delicate body and a pretty face, but my sense of inner self-worth didn’t change with all the facades I put in place.
Finding the ‘right guy’…
I had boyfriends in my twenties and thirties and always assumed I would end up getting married and having children at some point because I had a belief that that is ‘just what women do’.
Besides, if I didn’t do that, then there was something wrong with me… right?
As I moved into my mid-thirties and my last relationship ended, I could feel the pressure of being single and an unspoken decree from society that as a woman not having a partner was somehow wrong. Finding the right guy to settle down with became an underlying weight… Work-wise I was also in a bit of a crisis and felt overwhelmed and stressed, which only added to the stress of feeling I needed a partner.
Universal Medicine and the Start of a Change in Relationship with Myself
Over the subsequent years my relationship with friends, family and work colleagues shifted. I stopped needing all of them to fill me up and tell me that I was okay and lovable.
I began building a relationship with myself, and that included:
- Focussing on the quality of my breath, learning to breathe gently – and experiencing deep changes to my body and wellbeing when I did this. The changes I felt were an ensuing sense of calmness and stillness and a fixed place that I could return to whenever I went into anxiety
- Starting to take note of my inner anxiety, which was often triggered by feeling overwhelmed with demands at work and not feeling able to cope. As work was continually demanding, the feeling of anxiety was quite constant
- Looking at and gaining a deeper understanding around my childhood hurts – where I didn’t feel important or worthwhile. The tension in the house between my parents was intense and it affected how I felt about myself
- Taking greater notice of the food I was eating and how it made my body feel, which was often sluggish, tired and bloated, and as a result choosing to eliminate gluten, dairy and caffeine from my diet
- Going to bed earlier rather than forcing myself to stay up later just to watch the end of a TV program
- Observing where I was reacting to other people because of my insecurity and because I didn’t feel good enough; where I judged myself and thought others were judging me
- Observing that I often took on the emotions of others around me. For example, I would go into sadness when with someone else who was feeling sad, or I would feel sorry for others.
The above may sound quite simple, but for me it has been profound.
In developing a relationship with myself, I have learned to look inward and have found an exquisite loveliness inside, and I know this loveliness is who I am.
There is no pressure on another person to be something for me and, whilst I still love being with others and sharing, I can truly say that I thoroughly enjoy my own company. Having a relationship with myself and being a single woman is joy-full!
As part of this process I let go of the idea of having children – understanding that having babies needs to be a decision that comes from me, not from what is expected of me; or from a need to fill up my own emptiness with a dependence from a child. It felt so liberating to make this choice rather than a decision based on what I thought society expected me to do, and in that, making a choice that honours me.
If a partner comes along that would be great, but equally:
Being in a committed relationship with myself for the rest of my life feels beautiful also!
Looking back, I can hardly believe my inner change – it has been huuuuuge! Here I am today, feeling more complete within myself, steady, physically and emotionally well and vibrant. Outwardly my eyes communicate a sparkle and my body is far more relaxed. I now move far more gently and tenderly. My family members always make reference to my immense inner change and that I am so different to how I used to be. Living now without the emotional turmoil I used to live with is liberating and rejuvenating.
I also love my job – my crisis ended a while ago! And now I can offer so much more of me to everyone I come into contact with. I am less reactive to how others may speak to me and less concerned about what they might be thinking of me because I am feeling secure and strong in myself. I truly see the essence in every single person I come into contact with: this can be felt and creates an opening for a true connection as a result. Smiling and chatting with people in shops or at the checkout feels very natural now – I wouldn’t have been as relaxed and open like this a few years ago.
From now, knowing this in myself, I am seeing the same beauty, strength, grace and tenderness that resides in everyone else, equally so. There is an amazingness to seeing these qualities in everyone, even if in the moment they may not be choosing to express them. Each person has this loveliness inside and can re-connect to it any time they are ready. It lives within us all.
I have full appreciation for the changes I have made in my life in the complete knowing that it is my daily choices and my loving commitment to me and my relationship with myself that supports me in everything that I do. Being a single woman is a blessing and time very well spent, which has allowed me to get to know the true, beautiful me.
By Rachel Murtagh, Bed (Hons) Teacher, Somerset UK
Single By Choice – Does it Really Exist?