A young member of my extended family told me he was vaccinated
against Covid but he was dating a woman who wasn’t and she was using a fake card at restaurants.

“That’s a sign of bad character,” I said. “She’s putting other people at risk because she feels like having dinner out.”

“It’s a choice,” he countered.

“Not really,” I said. “This virus is airborne and she’s not giving other people a choice because she’s lying and you’re enabling her. She
could infect someone and your silence means you’re doing it, too.”

“It doesn’t really bother me,” he said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I don’t want to be alone.”

He knows I have strong feelings about the vaccination issue and he must have told me because he felt guilty. But that isn’t what this blog
is about. It’s about settling for someone, overlooking blaring inconsistencies and disrespectful behavior so you don’t have to be alone. It’s about using someone as a place holder instead of waiting to find a partner whose values you share and admire. It’s about being with someone whose behavior is questionable but you turn a blind eye so the person facing you is not yourself.

I’m trying not to judge my relative. In my past, I put up with things I didn’t condone because being lonely scared the crap out of me. I
was afraid of sleeping alone, spending weekends alone, having no one to listen to me and sitting alone at the dinner table  In order to avoid it, I didn’t end a relationship until a new guy was waiting in the wings. Once he took the place of the last one, I tolerated intolerable behavior and didn’t speak up so I wouldn’t be left alone in my own company. It worked for a while, but like most things we dread, they happen when we’re not looking. I’d split up with a boyfriend of three years, ready to be with the new guy, when he backed down and disappeared. And then I was alone. There was no one to lean on, no one to go the movies with (it was way before Covid) and no one to cry to. I decided I had two choices. I could find someone I didn’t really like, that wasn’t so hard to do, or I could make friends with myself, someone I had mixed feelings about.

Why is it so hard to accept and forgive ourselves? Why do we
bully ourselves? I was beating myself up one day when I thought, “If someone else were treating me this badly, I’d call the cops.” That was the turning point for me. I was tired of taking invisible blows and settling for place holders so I started the long and challenging journey of making friends with Andrea. When I was chiding myself for something, I imagined how my friend Rhoni would treat me. Would she shame me and make me wrong or would she speak kindly to me, find out what was bothering me and gentle me through it? Of course it was the latter, but it went much further than that. I realized that if I was judging myself harshly, that was how I was judging everyone else.

I came to understand that loneliness is not reserved for people who live alone. You can be lonely in a crowded or in a committed
relationship if you abandon yourself. So I made some changes. I used my breath to become aware of my thoughts and I learned to soothe myself. I decided that I wasn’t so bad. Just like anyone else, I deserved a second chance when I didn’t behave exactly the way I wanted to.

I’ve had a few relationships since then that didn’t last for a variety of reasons but I didn’t allow anyone to judge or abuse me along the way. And I didn’t do it to myself. I have no idea what’s coming next but right now, I know that whatever I do, I have someone to support and encourage me. Someone to forgive and uplift me. Someone to help me make decisions, to do creative projects and treat myself with compassion when the going gets rough. Someone who will
never leave. That someone is me.