It seems that it is hard for many to fathom that one can be legitimately and honestly happy without being in some form of a romantic relationship. (And I use the term "romantic" quite loosely and only to distinguish this from other types of relationships, as so very few of those I witness exhibit any actual signs of romance.)
Here are some facts that probably have significant bearing and should therefore be stated outright:
- I don't like very many people. The ones I do, I cherish.
- I definitely don't like children between the ages of five and 12, maybe 13. I therefore have no "clock," nor any other biologically-dictated reason to seek a mate.
- I do really like the closet space afforded by a one-person, two-story dwelling.
- I'm selfish. I acknowledge this. I don't have much baggage of my own, and I don't want my life cluttered by someone else's children/debt/elderly parents/crazy ex-wife.
- I really truly adore my dogs and have a connection with them that most don't understand and that is easily pigeon-holed into "crazy dog lady" status. I don't dispute the label, as I am admittedly both crazy and a dog lady, but I do think most people don't get it.
Other Person: I think you're kidding yourself. You can't possibly be happy alone.
Me: I'm not alone! I have four dogs with more collective personality--and probably intelligence--than any roomful of randomly selected people. I have an amazing and close family. I have great friends. Even the real kind that aren't just on Facebook.
Other Person: You know what I mean. Don't you want to be in a relationship?
Me: No, I really don't. I am genuinely happier and more fulfilled with my life than I have ever been. Nearly everyone thinks I must be fooling myself, but then a great many of those people are in relationships that are at the very least imperfect, if not plain unhappy.
Other Person: Well, I don't think it's healthy.
Me: I think there is something extremely unhealthy about being UNABLE to be happy on your own. I don't understand how anyone can be happy in ANY situation UNLESS they are first and foremost happy on their own. Like truly on their own, truly happy, and for a sustained period of time. I don't think people should be allowed into relationships if they can't achieve that first.
Other Person: But you just THINK you're happy. I doubt you really are.
Me: I have a hard time distinguishing between what it is to BELIEVE you're happy vs. what it is to actually BE happy. If I FEEL happy, then aren't I, in fact, happy?
What I find so interesting is the number of times this comes up, with different people and under different circumstances. It leads me to wonder if I am not the topic of sidebar conversations: "There she is with a dog instead of a husband again, poor thing." And if so, then touche, because I'm probably thinking, "There she is with that louse of a boyfriend again when she has a perfectly good dog at home."
I certainly don't mean to suggest that relationships aren't sometimes beautiful in their closeness and in the joy they bring to their participants. I have been in one or two of those, the problem being that the joy just did not sustain itself. Or, more accurately, we failed to continue to cultivate it. More accurately still, I was an angel of love and patience and he was a lying cheating SOB. Regardless, if that type of nirvana shows up on my doorstep, I will not close the door in its face. I'm just saying I don't expect it and I will accept no less; therefore I sure ought to be able to find joy on my own in life, no? Nothing is more depressing to me than the thought that some people face the choice of being unhappy alone or unhappy in a relationship, usually choosing to be unhappy in a relationship, because, well, at least there's somebody with whom to go out to dinner now and then.
Am I lonely? No. Would I be lonely without my family or my friends? Of course. Without The Girls? Most definitely. The Girls make me happy. They amuse me, they outsmart me, they manipulate me, they engage me, they love me unabashedly and unconditionally. Have I had relationships in which I questioned the other person's character, motives, honesty, commitment? Yes. Do I question any of those things in Petunia? Absolutely not.
Do I mean to compare my relationships with The Girls to my "romantic" relationships, past or future? Of course I don't.
The Girls are so much better.