never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: September, 2013

beasts of burden

And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.


Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.

Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.

These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.

penalty zones

One of the the most characteristic and ubiquitous features of the world as experienced by oppressed people is the double bind– situations in which options are reduced to a very few and all of them expose one to penalty, censure, or deprivation. For example, it is often a requirement upon oppressed people that we smile and be cheerful. If we comply, we signal our docility and our acquiescence in our situation. We need not, then, be taken note of. We acquiesce in being made invisible, in our occupying no space. We participate in our own erasure. On the other hand, anything but the sunniest countenance exposes us to being perceived as mean, bitter, angry, or dangerous. This means, at the least, that we may be found “difficult” or unpleasant to work with, which is enough to cost one one’s livelihood; at worst, being seen as mean, bitter, angry, or dangerous has been known to result in rape, arrest, beating, and murder. One can only choose to risk one’s preferred form and rate of annihilation.


Women are caught like this, too, by networks of forces and barriers that expose one to penalty, loss, or contempt whether one works outside the home or not, is on welfare or not, bears children or not, raises children or not, marries or not, is heterosexual, lesbian, both, or neither.


The experience of oppressed people is that the living of one’s life is confined and shaped by forces and barriers which are not accidental or occasional and hence avoidable, but are systematically related to each other in such a way as to catch one between and among them and restrict or penalize movement in any direction.

–Marilyn Frye, “Oppression,” Women in Culture: A Women’s Studies Anthology,” pp. 46-47


I like this piece and find it rings true. I feel I’m there but have lost the taste for the dating game, so I’m unsure how I’d find anyone outside of happenstance. I have really appreciated lately a couple of men who have shown me compassion during my job search, but one is married (struggling, but still married and at a completely different stage of life) and one is now living in New York. I appreciate them all the same.

Kindness and availability become more important to you

As we lose our taste for attractions of deprivation, we usually experience a temporary void in our dating life. We know we don’t want the pain of past relationships, but nothing else seems as exciting. In time, (and often with guidance) we begin to seek what I call attractions of inspiration.

These attractions are based upon a (basically) consistent quality of shared kindness, generosity, and emotional availability. They often unfold slowly. They get richer as time goes on. They make us feel love, not desperation.


I’ve definitely stopped looking, and so far, no one is showing up. I think I’ve given up– if not all– quite a bit of hope. It does feel a little strange and uncomfortable and on occasion even deadening, but most of the time I’m okay.

I don’t believe it’s possible to not be looking. To not look is to give up any hope of finding love. As far as I can tell, there is no better feeling in the world than to love and be loved. Why would you ever give up on finding that? Why would you ever stop looking?

the empty middle

After earning a degree in human resources management, Galipeau found that 56 was too old to start a new career. Fortunate enough to draw a full pension from Carrier, Galipeau took a part-time job at a supermarket meat counter, for the health insurance. Syracuse’s leading vocations are now education and medicine – the training of the young and the preservation of the old. Where nothing is left for the middle-aged, or the middle class, it’s difficult to be both.

the unreasonable


Unfortunately I might have to leave my version of Portland and backyard chickens and go back to the expensive city of L.A. in order to get a job:

So there you are in New York. You’re struggling and broke, but you’re happy. You’re in the center of the universe, right? And you’re so in love with the city that the sight of the Manhattan skyline as you ride the Q train over the bridge at night is enough to make you weep. Or maybe you’re crying because you’re tired from working your barely living-wage publishing job and then doing freelance work all night to cover your rent; or maybe you’re crying because New York is an absolutely brutal place to be a single woman; or maybe you’re crying because you’re in your 20s and it’s all so beautiful and big and overwhelming, the city spread out before you like that.


When my husband and I were born, it was possible to raise a family in New York without extreme struggle. It was still harder than most places, sure. New York has never been easy. But it was possible to raise a family in reasonable comfort without being a corporate lawyer or investment banker or heiress. To be a middle-class family in New York these days is to be in eternal survival mode, always scrabbling, always scraping by. What happens to a city that’s priced itself out of reach of the average family?

And so we left. We moved to Portland, Ore. We bought into that West Coast dream, backyard chickens and all.

the outlook

I haven’t heard back about the job I interviewed for, which is not a good sign. Once again, I interviewed with people I had worked with before, and they were quite friendly and seemed happy to see me. I’ve had to realize that doesn’t mean much in terms of getting an offer.

Recently my employment agency called me with a “great opportunity” that turned out to be a twelve-hour shift job that was perhaps one step up from the kind of thing they pull desperate people off the sidewalk to do. Another bad sign.

No responses from the part-time jobs I’ve applied for either.

At some point next year, if I’m still unemployed, I’ll have to decide if the mature thing to do is to stay rooted or to cut my losses and look for a good job elsewhere. It’s been bleaker than I expected.

I thought things had improved, but I guess not so much:

Women have lost close to 500,000 public-sector jobs since the summer of 2009. Men, comparatively, lost 290,000 such jobs.

Women have taken restaurant and retail jobs instead as teaching and other public-sector career positions that have disappeared, Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the NWLC told Bloomberg.

“They are taking jobs as baristas in Starbucks and other jobs that used to go to people without college degrees,” Entmacher said. “It’s an anecdote but it’s also a fact.”


Fairy tales in all cultures are for the most part soul stories rather than spirit stories. The dwarf is a soul figure, as we saw in “The Water of Life.” Cinderella is a soul story. The archetype there is ashes, as Robert Bly pointed out in Iron John. You (because these stories are all about you) are kept down, in the ashes, close to the hearth, grounded but also grieving, your inner beauty unperceived and exploited. During this time, inwardly, a new development is taking place, a maturation, a metamorphosis, a tempering, which culminates in the emergence of a fully developed human being, radiant and golden, but also wise to the ways of the world, no longer a passive and naive agent. The fully developed human being embodies the unity of soul and spirit, up and down, material and non-material.

The meditation practice itself is a mirror of this journey of growth and development. It too takes us down as well as up, demands that we face, even embrace, pain and darkness as well as joy and light. It reminds us to use whatever comes up and wherever we find ourselves as occasions for inquiry, for opening, for growing in strength and wisdom, and for walking our own path.

— Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you Go There You Are, pp. 268-269


In a post from yesterday (last one standing), a commenter wrote in to say that she doesn’t like this blog because “people can smell schadenfreude, envy, self-pity and rationalization a mile away.” Although I don’t understand the motivation behind “scolding” comments, she has a point about that particular post, as it was all about how other people, in this case NoMos, had let me down. I gave a fuller response in my reply to her.

Ultimately, though, I have to stand by my perceptions and “speak my truth.” When I look up books on Goodreads that I love, some people love them, and some people hate them. If you are going to write anything beyond bland cliches, I figure you have to have a tough hide.

Perhaps some readers will relate to my experience and breathe a sigh of relief that they are not alone; that is one of my primary motivations behind writing this blog. Others might become angry, which probably warrants some self-reflection. Others might not relate at all and my experience won’t ring true for them. If there are older, single NoMos out there for whom that is the case, I’d be happy to hear from you, as that could offer a fuller portrait of this strange territory.