Single, Childfree, Petless and Loved.
Life is kinda overwhelming. When I think about taking care of living things, I get nervous. A dog. A cat. A human. A philodendron. I don’t know how people do it.
My evil twin says that many of them shouldn’t be doing it. Taking care of living things, I mean. Raising kids, for instance. Look at all of the conflict around the world, and you can see clearly that many folks are screwing it up.
I’m pretty much always overwhelmed. There are the obvious things: melting glaciers, hatred, ignorant politicians, poverty, angry Facebook posts and hormone imbalances. For starters. And the less obvious: leaf-blowers, tacky architecture, garlic breath, bad hair days and groups of more than one person.
My temperament is a factor. I’m introverted, introspective and sensitive, which others have been known to call geeky, dramatic and weird.
Considering my consistent state of overwhelm though, I haven’t done a bad job. Living, I mean. I’ve been in significant partnerships. I have sweet friends. I’ve danced the tango in Paris. I even have a career that I love. You can probably guess what it is.
I’m a psychotherapist.
It’s the perfect career path for someone particularly sensitive to life, people, responsibility, and screwing up. Of course, you could argue that my clients are living things that I’m responsible for. And you’d be partially correct. But there’s a limit to the responsibility. It’s different. Sure, I love my clients. We go on intimate journeys together. We learn about safety and trust and self-acceptance. It’s deeply nourishing.
But I’m not folding their laundry or paying their college tuition. I’m not organizing their birthday parties. They aren’t puking on me or demanding my car keys.
Due to my psychotherapeutic proclivities, my sensitivity, introversion and my overwhelm, I’ve consciously chosen to be childfree and petless. Singlehood has been fine too. I’ve always been fond of having control over my environment. It can be tricky if someone other than me is trying to cook or shriek or leave their dirty dishes hither and thither.
I enjoy my solitude, and I like having the time to obsess when I want and how I want.
That said, the idea of a soul companion is appealing. The last one was a good one. He was smart, kind and a great communicator. We had nine sweet years together. Remodeled a house. Healed some of each others’ old wounds. But the relationship ended when it became very clear that hiking in the wilderness, sleeping with spiders and living without my laptop would never be my favorite thing.
It ended when it became very clear that examining and processing the deep-seated neuroses that were at the root of his anxiety and wheel-spinning would never be his favorite thing. So we parted, friends. After some crying. Okay, after a lot of crying.
Luckily, before we split, I had the brilliant idea to start blogging. And becoming a blogger is surely what every single, childfree and petless person needs.
Let me explain.
You see, there is a loneliness factor in the single, childfree and petless life. I hate to admit it. But it appears that humans need to feel that they belong somewhere and that they are loved. Imagine that. I suppose it’s part of the human condition. And, as much as I hesitate to say this, I suppose that I’m human.
But blogging serves so many needs. I express my creativity and support others from the comfort of my peaceful home or at my favorite café. I have friends in Slovenia. At 3 am, when I can’t sleep, someone likes me. I’m influential and don’t have to deal with baggage fees. I talk to fascinating folks in Dublin and Brazil. People pay to hear my thoughts. My life is making a difference. I belong in the world and to myself.
I am loved.
Not too shabby.
Of course, blogging doesn’t solve everything. So, I also have my team of practitioners. My naturopath, my rolfer, my medical intuitive, my tango teacher and my psychotherapist. I still need my hormone replacement therapy. My hair products.
And yes, there are some lonely nights when I wonder if I should break down and get a philodendron.
Or, if a wonderful man who doesn’t leave dirty dishes hither and thither were to come along, I’d be open.
But, honestly? The single, childfree and petless life?
Paula Prober is a psychotherapist, blogger, author, consultant and tango dancer living in Eugene, Oregon. She blogs at Your Rainforest Mind, a blog that provides support for the excessively curious, creative, smart and sensitive. Her book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is about how highly sensitive, obsessed, rebellious, smart people can live meaningful, satisfying and purposeful lives, even if they’re single, childfree and petless.