All By Myself

It all began a week before New Year’s Day in the 23rd year of my being single.


I was sitting on my mother’s couch, wine glass in hand, alone with only the cat for company again…watching yet another holiday romantic movie in the middle of the night to lift my spirits or at least distract me from the fact that I was on my mother’s couch on a Saturday night, when suddenly, it hit me: I had turned into Iris Simpkins.

I had watched the film, The Holiday, when it had first come out on DVD in 2007. I was a teenager then, and my experience with love came only from a worrisome addiction to cheesy romance novels, and an over consumption of romantic comedies, of which The Holiday had been one.

To recap for those of you who haven’t yet seen The Holiday, Iris Simpkins, as played by Kate Winslett, is a heartbroken women suffering from a three year bout of unrequited love for an ex-boyfriend who recently got engaged but still calls her for late night, soul baring conversations. In a rash 10 minute online chat, she agrees to switch homes with the incredibly successful Amanda, played by Cameron Diaz, who despite being practically perfect, has a boyfriend that cheats on her. The two switch homes leading them on their own romantic adventures where they learn the meaning of friendship, love, and what it means to ‘let go.’

I remember upon first watching the film I found Iris to be pathetic, relating instead to the strong, successful, and independent Amanda, and thinking to myself, how silly it would be to pine after someone who didn’t love you back, to the point of depression.

Kate Winslett as Iris Simpkins in the film, The Holiday, sniffing toxic fumes.

Yet as Iris stooped over her stove, sniffing in the toxic fumes, I realized with a newfound empathy that I completely understood the motivation behind what had once looked like extremely insane antics.

Not so gently swallowing the wine I had just been using to drown my own sorrows, I reached for the remote and skipped back to the beginning. I listened, for what seemed like the first time, to words that I never thought would ring so incredibly true to me.

“ — there is another kind of love,” she said heartbrokenly, “The cruelest kind. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us, what about our stories? Those of us who fall in love alone.”

I shifted, suddenly, overwhelmingly, uncomfortable. What about us? I thought as I took another gulp.

“We are the victims of the one-sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones, the unloved ones,” she went on.

“I hear that,” I muttered, downing the remaining bit of liquid left in the glass.

“The walking wounded! The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space.”

“Yup. Pretty much — Oh my God.”

“And that was it. Right there. Right there! That was the moment,” said the voice of Bridget Jones in my head.

And it was the moment. That was the moment I realized just how pathetic I had actually become. Looking down at my empty wine glass, I questioned myself briefly on whether the voice in my head having switched from my own voice to that of Bridget Jones, yet another character in a romantic comedy, was a sign that I should probably stop drinking, before hitting pause and walking in a daze towards the kitchen to pour myself another.

How had this happened? I thought to myself. How had I become this person?

Somehow I had let the beginning of my twenties be corrupted by an idiot who didn’t want me. Who I knew didn’t want me. Who had made it pretty painfully clear when he got engaged to someone else that he did not want me. But of course that’s not what my brain fixated on. No. I could only remember the way he smiled, or how he smelled, or the exact feeling of his breath on my freaking neck as he whispered in my ear.

Disgusted with myself, I took one look at the nearly full bottle of wine, lifted it, and took a swig. Swishing it around a little, I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that it could not possibly get worse than this. Deciding that I’d probably be needing more than I could fit in the glass, I tucked the bottle under my arm and shuffled back to the dastardly couch, with the newly relatable Iris waiting to depict the exact level of pitiful, mind-numbing, woeful mop that looked horribly similar to me at that exact moment.

Setting my glass down, I hit play before pouring myself more wine, and settling back in to the warm hole I had made myself in the couch cushions.

“I suddenly realized that unless something changed soon, I was going to live a life where my major relationship was with a bottle of wine…”

Honestly! I thought as the movie played on, and I took another gulp of wine.

As the film ended and I finished off the remainder of the wine, I rolled back to stare at my mother’s ceiling where tiny blobs of green, blue, red, and yellow danced across it, twinkling randomly above my head as the lights on the nearby Christmas tree twinkled according to the timer.

While I recognized that the feeling of a sudden weight on my chest was only just the beginning of my meltdown, I felt relief all the same. It was like I had fallen into a pit, and because I had seen nothing but the walls of my pit for so long, I hadn’t noticed the clear decline in my emotional arrangements. However, now that a rom/com character had undeniably shined a light and forced a mirror in front of my tear-stained face, I certainly wasn’t going to continue to wallow.

You’re fucking 23! And smart, and funny, and…also overweight…and you’ve become a bit of a shut-in. Balls.

Realizing that I was still clutching the empty bottle of wine to my chest like a teddy bear, I rolled onto my side to set it on the coffee table, before turning back over, away from the bottle and my shame. Something definitely needed to change soon.

“…or I’d finally die, fat and alone. And be found three weeks later half-eaten by wild dogs.”

Oh, shut it, Bridget Jones!

I woke up that morning to the annoying blare of my cell’s alarm. Sitting up, my mouth dry, my eyes still adjusting to the light seeping in through the sliding back door, I grabbed my empty glass and wine bottle, and made my way back into the kitchen.

While wild dogs were probably out of the question as it was far more likely, yet equally depressing, that I’d be eaten by my own cats, the ‘fat and alone’ bit rang true enough for me to take notice.

This was going to stop. I am better than this, I told myself as I poured myself some much needed water. As I squinted out into the back patio, basking in the sun’s warmth as it blasted through the glass door that separated us, I felt freer somehow. Happier. Things were going to change for me.

I reached for my phone to go through the morning routine of responding to texts, messages, or comments on my social media accounts.

“You have no messages.”

Christ, are you always going to be there? I thought, to no one, because Bridget Jones wasn’t actually narrating my life.

Only once, I did look over my phone and quickly assessed that she was in fact right, and there had been no further belated “Merry Christmas’s,” especially not anything from one number in particular. I tried to feel relieved that he hadn’t called or messaged like he said he would. It would be easier if I didn’t try to keep up the appearance that we could still be friends. New Year, New —

That is until I opened my Facebook app and watched as the whole “New Year, New Me” bullshit quickly faded away to pictures of the happy couple with family and friends on Christmas.

My stomach dropped and suddenly the bottle of wine on the empty stomach combined with the increase of acid being rapidly produced in that moment became an overwhelming need to hurl.

The room spun, but rather than succumbing to my body’s needs, I simply sank down against the cabinets, following them down until my butt hit the floor.

A true masochist, I looked over the goofy, happy, smiling faces and felt the final piece of my heart break. It hurt at first, but then the pain was quickly replaced with a numbing sensation, that left me feeling nothing at all.

You deserve to be happy too, the numbness said, It’s time to let go.

“And so I made a major decision. I had to make sure that next year I didn’t end up shitfaced and listening to sad FM…”

Shit. She’s right. Again.

So I finally did what I should have done years before, and I deleted them, I deleted them all. Why I had stayed friends with his friends, family, and fucking fiancee, I haven’t a goddamned clue, but for the past two years I realized that I had been watching as their happy couple life ran its course, telling myself that I was supportive while secretly becoming a pitiful, mind-numbing, woeful mop.

Are you sure you want to delete these people from your life and finally be fucking free? Facebook had asked?

I thought for only a few seconds about whether this was immature, or unnecessary, or overboard. I asked myself, but how will you know what’s going on in his life?

I no longer fucking care, creepy woeful mop-self! I thought-shouted. And then I deleted them. Several easy clicks, and they were removed from my life, and my goddamned feed forever.

“I decided to take control of my life…”

Feeling suddenly empowered and motivated, I kept deleting. All of them. All of the people on my Facebook who I had somehow accumulated despite the fact that we were not friends and some of which I realized I didn’t even like at all.

Creepy dudes who sent me odd messages or tagged me in photos of themselves along with 30 other women. Annoying people from high school who I had found annoying in high school but had added anyway. Backwards thinking relatives who spouted hate were next. Then friends of my parents. Then friends of friends. Then anyone whose name and profile picture I didn’t immediately recognize — if you were deleted, I’m not sorry. Be happy for me, it’s part of my damn cleanse.

Pulling myself up off the floor, I finished my water, washed my dishes, and tossed the empty wine bottle in the recycling bin. My mom had since left for work, so I finished picking up the living room and kitchen before shoving my feet into UGG knockoffs, and locking up.

Now what? I asked my “new” not mop-like self as I hurried down the hill towards my car.

Now we ask ourselves WWBJD?

What would —

What would Bridget Jones do! Come on ‘old’ self, keep up! Bridget Jones would make resolutions. So, first step: make resolutions.

“Resolution number one: obviously will lose 20 pounds,” answered Bridget from the heavens of cinematic fantasy.

Make that 30…

I had been away from the gym and a healthy diet for several months. That needed to stop immediately. Pulling my phone from my pocket as I clambered into my car, I opened my messages and quickly sent a text to ‘Mama Bear.’


Okay. First step towards first resolution: done. Good progress.

Turning over the engine to my incredibly old bucket, Blue, I negotiated with her that if she turned on I would rush to the store to buy steering wheel fluid. After multiple caresses and several promises to be better, she finally turned over, Huzzah!, but the whining in my steering column seemed louder and more annoying than normal as though my car was trying to be sure that I made good on my promises as well. As I pulled out into the street, I made a mental note to be sure that in the new year I would take better care of my car.

Fifteen minutes later when I returned home to my disastrous room, I remembered what resolution number two was.

“Number two: always put last night’s panties in the laundry basket…”


Also, I thought as I looked at the various piles surrounding the really huge pile in the center that used to be my bed, should probably put the rest of your clothes away as well.

A professor, and a dear friend of mine, had recommended, or rather not recommended, a book that she had used to learn how to tidy which had caused her to get rid of several trash bags of her own stuff before motivating her to continue to ‘Kondo’ the rest of the house and then her mother’s house as well.

With a bit of research on Amazon, I say research, but just type in ‘magical tidy book’ and its the first one that pops up, I was able to find The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I called into work, had them set one aside for me, and made a list of other necessities I would need to put this cleansing into full course: Trash bags, cardboard boxes, Kleenex, duster, Adele, more Kleenex —

While Marie Kondo, the author of this amazing little book and the developer of the KonMari method, is actually a little fairy godmother of tidying that magically teaches you how to get rid of all of your crap, I do not think that people in Japan have quite as much crap as those of us in the states. At least, that’s what I realized after several hours of touching my clothes — asking them if they brought me joy, then thanking them for… whatever… before tossing them into the donate pile — and several trash bags later.

In either case, Kondo was going to be teaching me far more than just tossing last nights undies into the hamper, so resolution number two was slowly, if begrudgingly, being completed into the new year.

Which brings us finally to the major resolution, one that I will probably regret later.

“Equally important, will find a nice sensible boyfriend to go out with and not continue to form romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, or perverts.”

Which in today’s world, means swiping left a bunch.

I’m going to leave the profile making on the various dating sites until tonight, when I’ll be accompanied by copious amounts of wine and close friends. But as the New Year fast approaches, and the supposedly ‘New Me’ is slowly taking form, I can only hope that there is a Mark Darcy, in his buttoned up, snotty, haughty glory waiting to tell me that nice guys do indeed ‘fucking’ kiss like that after having bought me a new diary for the following year and swept me off my, poorly dressed, feet. In the meantime…

Bottoms up!