On loneliness

I’ve been feeling more lonely, more often, over the last few months. There, I admitted it.

I do enjoy my own company and usually *need* time on my own to stay sane.

But lately, it’s felt a lot more like ‘lonely’ than ‘alone’.

I have friends, but I no longer seem to have a best friend. She’s got her hands very full with two small children, a husband and a hectic life. She’s been drifting away from me for a few years now, if I’m honest. And it’s not for the lack of trying on my part – but after being turned down repeatedly when I suggest we meet up for coffee, or a drink, or even dinner if she can get away, I’ve kind of stopped asking. (She never calls me to suggest a get-together.) I miss her so much. She could always make me laugh until I wheezed. And she was always the person I could tell anything to.

So there’s a big gap in my life without her. I have other friends, but none who I feel I can call at 10pm when I’m having an anxiety attack. Which sucks, because I’ve been having a few of those recently, relating to a health issue.

How I wish that when I wake up in the middle of the night, and scary out-of-proportion thoughts flood my head, and my breath gets shallow and fast, and my heart thuds in my chest, that I had someone I could snuggle up to. Who would put a comforting arm around me and tell me that it will all be OK and that he’s there for me, and that I’m not crazy. And tell me to go back to sleep and it will all seem less awful in the morning.

Because it’s starting to feel like I’m never going to have that. That I’m weird and there’s something strange about me that just puts people off. Is it how I look? Should I lose weight? Do I walk funny? Do I smell bad?!! Or is it this unapproachable aura I apparently project, that makes me seem prickly or aloof and just not the kind of person you’d want to get to know. How is it that everyone else knows what to do to find The One?

I’m dreading getting older and having to deal with health issues on my own. Having to cope with the ageing and eventual loss of my wonderful parents without support. And not having a companion to hang out with and weather life’s ups and downs with.

Yes, I love being single. But no, I do not want to be single for the rest of my life.

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So what exactly have I DONE with the last nearly 40 years?

My Big Birthday is looming. Yes, soon I’ll have to change the title of this blog to ‘Single Fortysomething’. And let me tell you, I am not thrilled about it.

How did I get so OLD? I have nearly FORTY years behind me. How did that happen? Where did they go?

I confess, I have been: Completely. Freaking. Out. You know that pressure you get when you’re in your thirties and single? About settling down, stop being so picky, find a good-enough guy, marry him, have children (you’d be SUCH a great mom!)… all that stuff? Well, I’m feeling it x100000 at the moment – and I’m inflicting it on myself.

My BFF who has two under-fives and a husband is so utterly exhausted she doesn’t have time to have a midlife crisis. Would I be feeling happier about turning 40 if I was married with kids? Maybe, but then again maybe I’d just not have a moment to myself to think about it.

The thing is, I look back over my last 40 – OK, say 20 – years and I don’t look at any of the guys I dated and wish I’d married them. (Maybe just one… but we didn’t actually date.) If I had met The Man Of My Dreams in my twenties, my life may well look very different right now. But I didn’t, and I quite like how it looks.

I suppose I’m just feeling that my life is rushing by, and all those things I plan to do ‘one day’ might never happen – unless i do something about it. It’s quite a wake-up call.

But ultimately what I’ve realised is that for the last 40 years – or rather the last 25 (we don’t really have much say until we’re over 15) – everything I’ve done has been based on what I felt was the right decision at the time. Nobody would ever call me impulsive and I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and listened to my gut.

Isn’t it enough to do the best we can?

Yes… that gives me a lot of peace and acceptance about my life so far. But now I’ve taken stock of it all, I’ve realised that I need to take action, and do so sooner rather than later, to make my dreams come true.

Considering this, I’m now quite excited to be entering my forties. Because I’m determined to make them wonderful.

 

Questions nobody should ever ask

How on earth are you supposed to answer these questions?

“When are you going to find someone nice and get married?”

Probably next year, maybe on the last Saturday in April, if my crystal ball is accurate.  Related to:

“Why are you still single?”

O.M.G. There just isn’t a good answer for this one although I’ve been tempted to say things like ‘Because I look at other people’s marriages and none of them make me want to tie the knot myself’. What I usually say is ‘How many nice, straight, single 30/40-something guys do YOU know?’

Another one:

“When are you going to have babies? You’d be such a good mom / You aren’t getting any younger, you know.”

Jeeeeeeepers… this one drives me crazy. Just because YOU have kids, doesn’t mean everyone else (a) wants them and (b) can have them. Oh and thanks for pointing out that I’m nearly over the hill.

So many people struggle with fertility these days, that you’d think people wouldn’t be so tactless. And asking this of a single person is even worse… I mean, are we just supposed to go out and get ourselves knocked up, to become single mothers? I have friends who are single who are desperate for children, but don’t have the (emotional and financial) resources to go it alone. This kind of question is like a knife through their hearts.

And as for those of us who prefer to remain childfree, well… admit that to these people and you’ll be given a look of horror. How could you not want little snot-nosed, screaming darlings?

If you have any snappy answers for these questions, please share them in the comments. I could do with some good comebacks.

Pinterest makes me want to punch my laptop

OK so perhaps I do have a secret board on Pinterest that may or may not include beautiful images of sparkly rings and gorgeous (not white) dresses.

The wedding section on Pinterest is pretty scary. It’s a flurry of hippy or hipster chic – mason jars, baby’s breath, wooden ampersands and ombre wedding cakes abound. THE PRESSURE to produce a perfect wedding must be ridiculous for the people who pin this stuff so avidly. And WTF is a sand ceremony?!

They can have it all, and sure, it’s all very pretty. But the one thing that makes me want to throw up – or throw things – is all the cutesy ‘Mrs’ paraphernalia. Necklaces that say ‘Mrs’. Scatter cushions. T-shirts (“cute for honeymoon!!!”).  SHOWER CURTAINS. Seriously?

This one is the worst:

He Stole My Heart So I'm Stealing His Last Name - Photo by Beautiful Mess Photography, LLC - Art by Sarah Doriani

I realise that some women can’t wait to take their husband’s names. I just don’t understand why. What’s wrong with their own names? Taking your husband’s name feels to me like you’re becoming his property. I love my last name and it has defined me for decades. Changing it would feel very, very weird. It’s part of me and I’d like to keep it.

And why in this day and age are all males referred to as Mr, but women are still either Miss or Mrs? I have been trying for years for my bank to change my title from Miss to Ms and it’s yet to happen. Why do women’s titles still indicate their marital status, while men’s don’t? It drives me crazy. I will remain Ms Singlethirtysomething all my life, regardless of whether I am single, married, divorced or whatever.

Rant over!

 

Yes, this is my life!

If I want to spend an entire Saturday afternoon on my sofa reading magazines and eating chocolate/popcorn/sipping exotic tea, I can. And I don’t feel ANY guilt.

I can devote hours upon hours to my hobbies and passions – what a luxury.

When it’s time to book a vacation, I can go wherever I want to go, and when I get there, I can do whatever I want to do.

If friends invite me to do something with them, I can say yes/no immediately, without having to check with someone else.

If I want to go to bed really early, or stay up to the wee hours reading a great book, or have breakfast for dinner, or… or… or… I CAN DO IT.

I’m having a ‘being single is pretty awesome’ week – can you tell? 😉

 

Coping on your own

A good friend has recently lost her husband after over 30 years of marriage. Before they were married, she lived at home. She has never lived on her own and now she has to adjust to it. That’s a HUGE adjustment. Not only is she dealing with her intense grief, and the trauma and sadness of her husband’s illness, but she is alone for the first time in her life.

Her sons are a huge support, and she has many family members and friends who are there for her. But they’re not there at 2am when she has an anxiety attack, or when she could really do with a hand with unpacking her groceries… or the thousands of other little things she’s so used to having her husband alongside her for.

My heart really goes out to her. Much as I love being single, it’s not something she has chosen and it’s inappropriate for me to trot out the reasons why being single is amazing. It’s going to be a hell of a change for her. She’s going to have to be strong and brave – and I think she’s going to discover who she really is for maybe the first time in her life.

Love and hugs to you, H.

xx A

 

Would this get a response on a dating site?

Wanted: A man who will be my companion and my friend. Who will love me and stand by me. Who will fight my corner. A man who will be there for me as I get older, who will help me deal with losses and help me feel that I’m not alone. And I will do the same for him. We’ll have our own interests and often go and do our own things, but we’ll enjoy meeting for dinner and telling stories about our days – at home, and in far-flung exotic places.

I don’t expect fireworks and violins. We don’t even need to have a swing-from-the-chandeliers sex life… I’d be happy with cuddles and kisses on the couch. I need my independence, but I also need kindness, intelligent conversation and warm, tight, full-body hugs – often. Where are you, Mr?