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Being single has blown me wide open. A couple of years ago I could never have imagined myself being deliberately, consciously alone, craving that time with myself rather than just as a default, in-between state. My relationships have gotten deeper, including with my son, as we’ve adjusted to life being how it is; feeling full instead of that man shaped space next to me.

It makes me smile when my friends and family crack one liners like ‘someone needs to make an honest woman out of you’, ‘you’re hell on men’, and the ever-popular ‘I can understand you being a commitment-phobe now, after everything’. I’m not alone. I’m not commitment phobic. I’m committed to my friends and my son and my life but mostly I’m committed to myself, and there’s something special about that. It makes me laugh when well-meaning relatives click their tongues and sympathise, ‘the right one will come along when you’re not looking for him’.

Maybe he will, and maybe he won’t. and I’ll be whole either way. I haven’t had an actual date in probably a year and occasionally I’d like to go on one, but then I just do something nice for myself instead. I have a market stall with my best friend now, and I love meeting people and getting to know customers – people reveal so much about themselves when there’s no expectations and no formality. It’s so cool, all these quirky amazing people from all walks of life. I love it.

I’m getting along better with Bailey’s dad, we’re not quite friends, but we’re communicating effectively. I want good things for him. We’re not looking like dragging each other through court now, and I know we could get into a massive argument tomorrow, throw goodwill out the window and try to destroy each other, but I don’t think it will happen. This feels like a genuine shift. I stood up for myself – without shouting, arguing or attacking. And it worked, I think. He can’t walk all over me and he respects me as the parent who sticks by Bailey no matter what, who finds solutions and doesn’t make him into someone he’s not. I respect him as Bailey’s father who loves him, and I leave them to their relationship, even though it’s not my ideal. That letting go is hard, but it has to happen, and I do it again and again.

There’s this sense of freedom and possibility that has come with being single for me, once I got through the (horrific, gut-wrenching, sickness inducing) pain of separation, that is. I’ve been able to get to know myself, be authentic and uncompromising. I think our education system would put my son through pain, so I pulled him out and he stays home. I lived at the beach for a year because I felt like it. I came back because I thought it was our best option. I sell hemp products because I believe that’s important. I didn’t have to debate with anyone about those decisions. I didn’t have to consider anyone’s feelings except mine and my now 7 year old son’s.

I’m not shunning the idea of a relationship, but I’m loving where I’m at, especially after how long it took me to get here. This has been the hardest, most worthwhile work of my life. When I have a bad day, I know it’s just a day, and I don’t need anyone to fix it for me. I had never experienced being able to soothe myself. I’ve always been with someone or pining over someone or had a fall-back person. This whole ‘love yourself and life is not bullshit’ thing actually holds some credibility, who knew?

Sunsets are just as beautiful alone.

Ash xx

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