I had a painfully bad day yesterday. It was so bad that I started sobbing hysterically in the middle of the work day.
No one was available to comfort me. My friends were busy working, my mom was MIA and my sister was chasing my nephew around her house. So, I did what I do best: I crawled inside my head and got lost in it.
What made my day so bad? Well, it was a bunch of little things, really.
I had to carry my groceries a mile in the sweltering, sticky, New York summer heat, up and down subway stairs, then up and down my fourth-floor walk-up. (New York City gives zero fucks.)
Work got to be a bit much, I'm incredibly sexually frustrated and I think there might be a mouse living somewhere under my fridge, but my super is too much of a self-important asshole to come kill it for me. My sister is about to pop out baby number two, and my mom is breathing down my neck, asking me where my Prince Charming is at.
And in the midst of all this stress, all I was thinking was, "I'm not OK. I'm not OK. I'M NOT OK." Dammit, I just needed someone to tell me it wasn't the end of the world. But, it's too easy to spiral when, in all your dark moments, you don't have someone to remind you everything is going to be OK. Someone like a special man friend comes in handy here.
I haven't been emotionally intimate with a man in a while. In fact, I haven't even hugged someone in a while. (OK, I've done the whole "I love you SO much" embrace with my girlfriends drunkenly at bars a million times, but those don't count.) I'm talking a real, all-guards-down, "There, there, I've got you," hug.
Yesterday, in my vulnerable state, I tweeted this:
To which someone tweeted back:
"Yes, and yes," I thought. Of course I have a loving family and circle of friends, as any perpetually single girl should. Without them, I'd probably be face-down, near-death on a cement sidewalk somewhere.
But family and friends can only be there for you so much when you're feeling lost. At the end of the day, they have girlfriends, boyfriends, pets and families of their own to tend to. As a single girl, you don't want to feel like a liability by pouring all of your shit onto them, so you kind of just step back and let your shit consume you instead. And then, you end up in a lonely place that can be impossible to dig yourself out of.
Life isn't as difficult when you have a boyfriend. It's a boyfriend's job to be there for you (and if he isn't, he's a shitty boyfriend), and it's your job to be there for him. No one can be there for you the way a boyfriend can.
Friends can soothe you with words and hugs and phone calls. But a boyfriend can appease you with cuddles and sweet sex and promises for the future. It doesn't matter if his promises are empty promises. In your low moments, those promises are promises nonetheless, and they're something to hold onto in your crazy, unpredictable mess of a life.
I don't have a support system, but in this tough-as-hell city, I need one every single day. But I'm too broke for a therapist, and I've already talked the ears off of my friends. I'm trying to be my own support system (Isn't that what the elusive "self-love" thing is about?) but man, it's so hard to stay strong for yourself.
No one talks about how hard it is for single women, so I will. Let me fill you in on a little secret: We are the ones who go to the gym way too much to exercise our horniness away. We're the ones who read self-help books on the train, scrambling to cover pathetic book titles with our hands so no one knows we're crying on the inside. We're the ones who post jokey memes about being single on Instagram, laughing about it for the sake of seeming fine, when really, we're going home to drink and smoke and sleep away the loneliness. And there's not one thing funny about it.
I suppose writing this makes me sound like somewhat of a damsel in distress, and maybe I am. But I'd like to be clear about something: This isn't a pity piece. It isn't a call for a big bear hug, and it isn't an invitation for dates. (God, no. It is anything but that.)
This is just my way of getting a load off. It's saying something that needs to be said in this very way and no other way. No single girl wants to say it in this particular way, since it's a grand confession that's often mistaken for weakness. But for my fellow single girls, I'm willing to take the fall:
I am single. I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and when life feels overwhelming, I really wish I had someone to lean on.
It is what it is. Until I find a special person, I'm going to continue to read self-help books on my commute, barricade myself with bigger-than-necessary pillows in my bed, drink bottles of wine with my single friends to get out of my damn head, have sex with strange guys (and then never speak to them again) and Instagram things about how funny it is to spend Friday night in bed face-planting into a pizza pie.
I'm going to laugh about not having a support system. Laughing through loneliness is the only way to make it seem like anything but loneliness.
By writing this, I also hope I'm making it known that it's OK to want a guy to be there for you. In fact, it's more than OK. Needing someone there to have your back doesn't make you weak. It makes you human.
By writing this, I'm acknowledging the simplicity, yet sincerity of a text that somehow makes all the everyday crap in your world seem like molehills — not mountains — and nothing more. See, if I could just wake up to this one text every single morning, what a difference it would make.
“Hey, Sheena?" the text would say, "Everything's gonna be OK.”
And just like that, I'd be OK.