January is often a more optimistic month than February. In January my clients have an excitement about a new year beginning and are open to possibilities that 2012 will be a better year. Then February rolls in and people feel pinched by how hard life can be and feeling discouraged is on the daily menu. Add to this being single on Valentines Day & it’s a recipe for further misery.
There can be a discouraging drudgery to dating. People lie, tell you what you want to hear or are completely not interested in building a future. People come in to their sessions talking about needing a break from dating because they are weary. February is when we tire of winter weather & are pissed at punxatawny phil for always predicting 6 more weeks of winter.
Besides Mary Tyler Moore in the 1970’s, there aren’t many cultural icons for being single & happy. There was one very overlooked movie in 2008; Happy-Go-Lucky with Sally Hawkins who was single & happy. Even Gloria Steinem bit the dust when she got married at 66 to Christian Bale’s father. Both Mary & Gloria took the time to know themselves.
Depression & discouragement are linked to being “cognitively wrong about what they (people) think they have a right to expect” according to Abraham Maslow. “This isn’t supposed to be my life” is something I hear a lot.
After 38 years of working with people there are no supposed to’s. Broken dreams are a huge hard part of life. People die in their 30’s, are shocked by divorce in their 40’s, lose their jobs & can’t find work in their 50’s, or have their homes go into foreclosure in their 60’s. Many people don’t get the families they wanted.
Then I read an article in the NYTimes on Feb.5th titled One’s A Crowd written by a professor of sociology. It offers a lot of comfort that single people are not alone; “MORE people live alone now than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant. In Manhattan and in Washington, nearly one in two households are occupied by a single person.”
It is clear that Single People are the norm, not cultural outcasts. In Sweden 47% are single. Living alone is expected to continue to grow. It is ordinary to be single and more people need to be aware of that truth, maybe even especially on the day we celebrate couples.