Things for the most part are going well, so why do I feel terrible?
I’m practicing yoga and meditation every day, which in turn continues to improve my dancing. I feel soft and relaxed. I swim several times a week and take long walks every evening on a wooded path. I’m eating better than ever now that I’m making most of my meals at home. I’m making top grades in my language class. I make sure to get out socially three or four times a week. I’m trying new things. I can sleep in most days.
And yet, I feel like I’m battling a depression. It makes me pop out the Ben and Jerry’s for a “rush” and frequently gives me insomnia. It keeps me from being able to concentrate on reading. It’s a constant pressure in my head.
I no longer think these sad feelings are related to childlessness. Having a child might keep me too busy to feel them, but I think that wound has healed.
They might, however, be visiting me for any number of other reasons. Genetics. Age. Time of life. Upheaval. Loss of my former identity. The loss of my former friends to motherhood (loneliness– that’s still a big one). Liminality. Losing hope for finding a partner.
To name a few.
Reverse culture shock?
Wow! As usual, your words sound like me talking. I wish you lived in Chester County, PA; I would seriously consider starting a group for women like us. What would I call it? I don’t know…I think your blog title is the most aprapo: thebitterbabe. Love it.
Oh, and I LOVE the term “liminality”. Perfect.
Yes, it sums it up pretty well..
Could it also be hormonal?I often feel the same. I am in the late 40s now and only realising how much I have been at the mercy of the ebb and flow of peri-menopausal hormone behaviour during the last decade. Many friends are reporting the same and many other symptoms. This is a hard time for many of us. I certainly have to work harder to maintain an even keel and sometimes that work doesnt even work. Me personally I am looking forward to the reported second childhood of the menopause, bring it on!
Well…yeah. I am 56 and have been emotionally labile for about 10 years. I think there is more to it, though. I think “liminality” is brilliant because most women go through some devistating change eventually. Most wait until their kids have grown but people like you and me don’t have that timeline. I think after decades of trying to please men (and others) we just get angry. Anger hides as depression, sometimes. I feel a kernel of absolute rage deep inside of me, though I am aware it is inappropriate to express it. I think many of us find the life we are living…disappointing.
I’ve read that the childless face a lot of this stuff earlier because we aren’t distracted by raising children.
It’s so frustrating, as you are doing everything ‘right’ – eating, yoga, meditation, etc. I think it is hard when we feel a bit adrift, aimless, not sure of how to focus our energy and make a ‘difference in the world.’ It is excruciating sometimes to weather the storm when it feels so unlike a ‘storm.’ I remember reading somewhere that it takes more courage to get through the irritations of each day than the dramatic and dangerous events … dealing the sliver in the shoe is like that constant drip of water, as opposed to mobilizing to survive and help out in a flood.
You’re already doing the things that interest you, so you’ve probably already considered, or are already doing, volunteer work or project work that you would enjoy – that connect-with-others, find-meaning sort of stuff.
I don’t know the answers but I do hope you find glimmers of hope to give you more peace and happiness.
In cruising some other blogs I found one where the writer was given advice to do a ‘gratitude journal.’ I have never done this but I think Oprah talks about it. There was a radio show about it on CBC I heard a few months back … here is the link: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2011/12/23/the-giving-of-gratitude/
It looks like they mention the book that Oprah refers to in the article. I remember thinking it sounded like a good idea but can’t say I have tried it myself.
I do have a lot to be grateful for, and I’m reminding myself of that quite a bit, but the dark cloud is still hovering. Perhaps there is something I need to address psychologically? Or maybe it’s biological/ hormonal.
I’m sorry you’re feeling this way Ranty. I’ve been battling the exact feeling for the last few years. For me, I believe it’s the absence of meaningful relationships. Not that I don’t have people to ‘do things’ with … but somehow that deeper connection is missing and barring that, I just don’t feel ignited.
There is so much I want to reply to – just catching up on your posts. But first want to reply to loneliness– your friends will come back- children leave home , but even before then they get their own lives.
I have you considered being a big sister/mentor to a teenager?
It does seem like that’s the case, as I see my acquaintances in their fifties getting their lives back. Have considered the Big Sister thing before, maybe will again. Have you done it?
Thanks for using the word liminality, very interesting concept.
What a great string of posts – I can relate to so much of it. Every mental wellness/self-help book (e.g., Blue Zones) talks about how relationships are topmost in terms of personal health and happiness – it’s all about strong interpersonal connections. How do you get those strong interpersonal relationships (where you share what’s happening with you day to day) outside a significant other-type relationship? People don’t have the time or bandwidth to do that outside significant relationships – life is just too busy.
I’m trying to figure out if a solution is to start a meetup of my own featuring small group, meaningful conversations on important topics – like going to Plan B If you do end up growing old alone. I’ve developed a website of resources and strategies to figure this out because I don’t think policy makers or the government are planning ahead for this. We will need to form our own support networks. I turn 50 in 2 months and I’m thinking about this a lot.
I want to start a nation-wide movement of community and support for those who live alone. I’ve developed a website of resources and I’ve delivered the first TED talk on living alone. I also just started a Facebook group for others interested in working on this. I do this as my volunteer work – I’m very passionate about it.
if you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know – thanks for letting me share.
“Plan B Connections”
I took a look at your website and watched your TED talk– very interesting! Thanks for sharing.
Also, have you checked out Gateway Women? There’s a great online community there where people are discussing these types of issues (http://gateway-women.com/free-private-online-gateway-women-community-on-g/). Might be of interest to you as well.
Thanks Ranty. I will definitely check Gateway Women out. So glad to have found your blog. 🙂
I also checked out your resources page and believe we’ve read the same books! I’ve mentioned some of the titles on this blog but I’d have to search out those posts.