by rantywoman

One of the things that I’ve experienced as a fortysomething woman who has never been married is that the “worst thing” has happened to me, not just once, but many times over.  This trend accelerated during my thirties.

I vaguely recall some scene in the TV series My So-Called Life in which the adolescent character played by Claire Danes crumpled into a crying heap on the floor in response to a romantic disaster.  I’m here to confess that I was still that person in my thirties and forties.

Some examples of my “worst things”: In my early thirties, being seriously smitten for two years with a younger man and witnessing him announce his engagement in a very public setting.  Falling for another man in my thirties only to realize he had serious mental health issues.  In my mid-thirties, being burned while making attempts to socialize and date with another single woman who turned out to be the least pleasant person ever; within a year she was dating someone and is now married with two kids.   Finding out that the first man who seriously broke my heart is now married to the “love of his life” and has a couple of kids (thanks Facebook).  Finding out that everyone from my past, in fact, seems to be married with kids (again, thanks Facebook).  In my late thirties, finding someone who seemed perfect for me only to have him repeatedly say he wasn’t ready for a commitment; he eventually disappeared on me during a health crisis.  Being cheered up by another man, a flirt, and developing another crush only to have him get back with his on-and-off girlfriend and get married.  At forty, starting afresh, meeting someone with whom I had the best sex of my life, only to have him pull the vanishing act on me, leaving me in a fugue state for weeks.  Meeting another seemingly sensitive, introspective man a few months later, mid-forties, going on several dates with him in which lots of intimate sharing was done, only to have him dump me immediately after our first intimate encounter because I have pubic hair (yes, really).  Watching my best childhood friends get married and have kids right before the “finish line” of their forties.  And on and on, up to this recent poorly-received (by me) “good news” of another not-so-nice person.

Now I admit, I also have rejected people, and I regret that I have also had to cause some pain, although I always tried to be as sensitive as possible about it.

One upshot of all this is that I’ve become remarkably resilient.  The worst will happen (again), I’ll cry into my pillow, and a few months later I may actually stumble in trying to recall the heartbreaker’s name.  Another upshot is that I’ve had to develop a sense of worth irrespective of how I’m being treated or received socially.  This, my friends, is not so easy to do, but as the Buddhists know, a sense of detachment is ultimately the only path of contentment.

I’m comforted by an unlikely source– the life of Herman Melville.  Moby-Dick was a flop, and Melville spent the last few decades of his life toiling in obscurity as a shipping clerk.  In other words, how we are received is not always a reflection of our worth–the older single woman’s mantra.