Several months ago, one of the speakers in church was reflecting on the many reasons why he’s been married to his wife.  What he said hit me, not because I hadn’t heard it before, but because I understood it differently this time.  He said they were “witnesses to each others’ lives.”

Later that night, I the opportunity to catch up with some old college friends who were here in Dallas.  The reminiscing on old times and catching up threw me into a weird time warp.  Talking with them reminded me of so many things and brought back so many memories from past lives.

In my relatively short lifetime, I have already had several ‘mini-lives’; smaller, compact sub-segments of my life that neatly compartmentalize themselves.  There was the time when I was growing up at my parents house, pre-mission college, my church mission, post-mission college, my short professional career in entertainment, and my current life in Dallas.  Each life has presented me with a new set of friends, opportunities to focus on different talents, and a chance to redefine myself over time.  Some of the people who might only have known me for a few years would be surprised to meet the WhiteEyebrows of 10 years ago – not that I’ve changed unrecognizably, but I can see how I have changed and morphed over time – and certain individuals have gotten to know me in many different lights.

I think it’s partly because we get defined externally (by others) by what we do, rather than by who we are.  If you’re spending all your time in a theater or in a music studio, people look at you differently than if you are spending your time in the library or computer lab.  Even if you spend time in both, or are perfectly capable at both, you are defined only by what those people see you doing in that particular phase of your life.

Catching up with these old friends made me think: when the past intersects with the present, it’s kind of creepy.  Your old lives start doubling back over each other, and you are presented with the challenge of revisiting your old self, and reintegrating that old self into your current self.  In a way, it’s good.  It keeps you honest.  It makes you own who you’ve been as much as you might not want to be that person anymore.  In a way it’s also uncomfortable though, as you can never quite express to the people from the different epochs of your life how you’ve changed over time.

As I consider this idea in the context of my singleness, I wonder how it is different for single people vs marrieds.  If I invited someone to be that “witness” to my life, how much would my life change and in what ways?  Certainly it will open up a new chapter in my already chapter-filled life.  But how would I integrate my single life into my married life?  Would there have to be wholesale cuts and changes?!?  “It’s a fire-sale!  Saturday only… All singleness must go!”

Being single, it is very easy to re-make yourself.  Every time you move, every time you change friends, you have an opportunity to cast yourself in a different light.  However, having a ‘witness to your life’ certainly changes all of that.  They become a stake in the ground; someone who anchors you, someone who knows you.

I think having that ‘witness to your life’ might be a good thing.  It’s the ultimate honesty check.  Just as your parents and siblings were the ones who knew you the best as you grew up, your spouse becomes the one to know you the most as an adult – being fully aware of all your buttons and knowing which ones to push and which ones not to.  They see you go through your life.  They watch you make decisions and change over time.  Those who reach those 30, 40, and 50 year anniversaries blow away the 20 years you might have spent with your immediate family.

But until that happens, let’s just keep celebrating our singleness.

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11 Responses to Celebrating Singleness: A Witness to My Life

  1. The Lovely Sister says:

    yup, ain’t it the truth. I feel wierd about just the facebook people that I have reconnected with from high school and such. I see their kids, they see mine. It’s eerie. I have “reconnected” with an acquaintance from high school that had a child in high school. She now has a 15 year old! It’s so wierd. Life is wierd.

  2. big bro says:

    It IS a fire-sale…. IMHO

  3. The Grape says:

    Nice thoughtful post….my take….being single is ok for certain situations, but by enlarge, marriage is better route to go to really find “yourself” and to understand what life is all about. Is marriage easy? Not by a darn sight, but it is so much more rewarding for a person. To explain a successful marriage is a very difficult thing to do, but when you have the sweet experience of a great marriage you now can better relate to what others have said. I believe that for a person to remain single for too long shows that that person maybe just a bit on the selfish side and only has concern for himself. Yes, life does surely change for the person who decides to take on the challenge of marriage. But in most cases, the change is so much the better….we then have to oppurtunity to really find out who we really are…….loving unconditionally,sharing,patience,long suffering, selfless, and the list could go on and on. I hope you get my drift. Then the ultimate joy and happiness comes into the marriage….children..there is nothing in this world that can compare to the marvelous feelings that comsumes the husband and wife at that time. Now, life really begins for them..yup….the Mom and Dad now become so much closer as they work together to teach, love, and give direction as the child grows to maturity. And later in life, this child will call your name “blessed” because you chose the path of marriage.
    Thanks Brows for letting me ramble.

  4. Erin says:

    Being married not only gives you a witness or a stake to keep you grounded, but also a helper. Since you grow and change together, you witness the struggles each other faces to change things they don’t like about themselves and having witnessed that, you don’t feel like they need a reminder of the painful or embarrasing past. I think this can potentially be a toxic subject for some couples. Those who “allow” their spouse to grow without throwing the past in their face are a lot more likely to have a better relationship than those who are constantly banging their spouse over the head with previous mistakes. Just some advice for when you decide to jump ship for the single life.

  5. mom says:

    This is a very thought provoking blog. Wow – it put into words feelings that I have had over time and never been able to explain. And it keeps happening to a person over and over throughout life – even after marriage. As each child has ventured on their own and made their own choices and paths, it happens again. I am now facing the empty nest stage and I find those feelings cropping up again. It certainly makes you ponder on where you are at and where you are headed and if you like the answers…. also, what is IMHO?

  6. IMHO = “in my humble opinion”

  7. Allie says:

    Uhmm I hate to break it to you but your singleness chapter pretty much closes and your married chapter begins, tell me do you really think you get to have singleness when you are married? You never spoke with me but you know my husband Brian, and to be honest married life is great, but the changes that take place “kill” your single life, if you aren’t ready for that, you aren’t ready to be married:)

  8. To your question: “tell me do you really think you get to have singleness when you are married?” Well, no, silly. Of course not. Cuz you’re not single anymore… hello? 🙂

    What I think prompted your question, though, was the section where I asked how a life should or shouldn’t change after marraige. And I think a few readers might have misunderstood me… I’m not talking about behavior changes (what you do) after your married. (Obviously the hanging out in bars and picking up chicks changes.) I’m talking about who you are – your core personality and traits – I don’t think that should change overnight.

    Consider how one might integrate the person you are as a ‘single’ into the person you are as a ‘married.’ Hopefully they are not too drastically different, right? It’d be kind of rude and unexpected for your spouse if you totally become a different person. Hopefully you are who you are, and there isn’t any scary personality skeleton hidden away anywhere, right?

    So yes. You should be the same person. It’s called integrity.

  9. Allie says:

    Yes this is true you want who you are to be the same after you get married, but core values should never change this is a correct thought. However you should KNOW who you are before you get married, otherwise your poor spouse ends up on that journey with you. Which is fair to neither you nor them.
    I am trying to fathom why you are thinking that your single and married person are different if we are talking about core values here instead of habits, because that should never change that is called integrity. Sadly almost everyone has some skeletons hidden away, either with how they have lived life or choices they have made to how they have treated people. I was lucky to marry someone who was open with his choices and his openness promted mine. It might be time to check yourself and make sure she “knows” of any choice that you may not be proud of, because most likely if you are human you have some. Because this is a HUGE change and you and she will be better off knowing these secrets. There is a book that I hate (mainly because it asks some questions that I don’t think uber appropriate if the situation has been repented of) but its called 300 Questions, you can find it at a Mormon bookstore, this might help you and her clear up any misgivings. Just a thought. Oh and counseling is always an option:D

  10. Yeah… I don’t think they are or should be different. That was the whole premise of the post.

  11. djensen says:

    Some thoughts from a recent “graduate” Yes, there are some things about you as a single person that have to change as a married person. It is hard to integrate your “singleness” into “marriedness” because I don’t think you realize at the time how much being single does define your life, especially if you are single for a while…I mean gosh, in like 2 minutes time you go from making all your own decisions to including someone else in all your thought processes. You communicate different, your social scene changes, your ward changes (which is the wierdest part!) but I think you still have to keep a core part of you, that part that is still you, the part that your spouse fell in love with, the part that you have been evolving over the years-that does not change, if it did you would be a different person. I agree though, as I look back there are people who only know a small part of my life, and will always remember me from that time-but I know have someone who will remember me as I have been as well as how I am, and that is comforting and humbling.
    Either way, I think you do have to live your life, be true to yourself and enjoy the show! 🙂

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