I just finished a two-week stint on bed rest after having sinus surgery and a tonsillectomy. As a single person who lives alone, being on bed rest presented challenges.
In the weeks leading up to the surgery I grew anxious not because there wouldn’t be anyone there to help me, but because I just turned 35 and I’m still not married. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was some kind of loser because I didn’t have that special someone to call on for help.
This little nugget is one of my rather large demons.
Truth is, I’m afraid of being alone forever.
This fear is one of my biggest vulnerabilities. I’m okay with being single most of the time, but when I find myself in a funk, it’s usually one of the first things to manifest for me.
I have this belief stuck in my head that I’m not supposed to be this old and still need to be taken care of by my parents. I’m supposed to have a husband who is by my side.
While I don’t need or want anyone to take care of me, I do desire to have a partner to share my life with, and someone who is there for me, and I for him, in sickness and in health.
So what does any of this have to do with Valentine’s Day?
I don’t like that it’s a day that’s focused only on one kind of love—romantic love. In our society romantic love is often glorified as the only kind of love that matters, and if you don’t have it, well then it sucks to be you.
To that I call shenanigans. Because it doesn’t suck to be me. Not even a little.
Here’s why: I’m surrounded by people who love me.
In the two weeks I spent on bed rest, I was inundated with love. It came in countless forms: my mother and father visiting me every day and cooking for me; good friends who brought me ice, and soup, and called every single day to see what I needed; coworkers who called, texted, and sent care packages; people who offered words of encouragement on the days when I decided I couldn’t take it another day; a cat who cuddled, and family members who gave me massages.
Sometimes the fact that I haven’t found that special someone yet brings up a fear that not being married means I’m not loved.
But that isn’t true.
Sometimes we have people to rely on, sometimes we don’t. Ultimately, we are on our own here, and there are no guarantees.
Knowing that we aren’t ever 100 percent secure is the core fear. It’s the thing we try to escape with the drinking, and the cigarettes, and the shopping, and the (insert vice here).
Though we may never be fully secure, it has been my experience that we are always taken care of.
If we’re paying attention, what we need shows up for us. Every single time.
There are many times in my past when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. But I can’t find a single instance when I didn’t have everything I needed.
Sure, it would have been nice if Ryan Gosling’s doppleganger was the one picking up my prescription at the pharmacy. But you know what else is nice? Having people in my life who care enough about me to help in whatever way they can.
That is love.
So this Thursday I will not be sad because I don’t have the impossibly perfect relationship. Instead I will be grateful for everything and everyone who has shown up for me. And I’ll look for my chance to return the favor.
Originally published on elephant journal.