never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: February, 2014

frank discussions

the raw deal

Anyway, all the aside, I could never quite comprehend just why these women complained so much, I was told time and time again that I was lucky that I had such freedom (luck has nothing to do with it – it’s a personal choice to have children or not, and I chose ‘not!’) I was also told that motherhood is by far the most difficult thing that any women would do, and that I had no comprehension on the difficulties of juggling motherhood, keeping house and working.

To the woman I was 2 years ago, these comments sounded patronising and way off the mark. I was 25, single, working full time hours in my chosen career, and also working two extra jobs (in a pub at weekends and data inputting on the evenings) just to keep my own head above water – and still I was struggling. Being told ‘I had no idea about real life’ from women who were only working part time hours, had husbands to help them (and bring in a second pay-packet), and who got to spend much more time at home than me was something I resented greatly. I wondered how they thought my essentials (housework, washing etc) got done as I sure as hell could not afford a cleaner and trust me when your struggling with day to day life with no support the last thing worth spending worrying about is the last time you watered your flower boxes (couldn’t afford somewhere with a garden!). But, the core base of their argument was that motherhood is a hard job, and one of which I could not comment on. And as I had never spent a whole day with a baby or young child on my own I kept my silence.

comfortably numb

I had to do some stressful work-related traveling this week, but the upshot was that I got to meet some colleagues at my level, which was quite helpful. They confirmed some of the reasons I’d been hesitant to take a job like this: it’s lonely being the boss, you have to deal with a lot of politics, you’re always “on,” everyone wants something from you, etc.

I’d also been hesitant to relocate to an outlying area in order to move up; I predicted it might be an easier life, but I wasn’t sure what I’d do with myself away from the urban center.

Yet here I am. I wouldn’t want to go back to my former life in L.A. necessarily, and it’s probably a good thing I’m pushing myself careerwise. I also certainly appreciate the financial security (not enough to change my life in any major way, but enough to put fears about retirement to rest, if I can stick it out for a good amount of time). But, given that I think it’s wise to keep some emotional distance from the job and to find passions elsewhere, I don’t know what I’m about or what excites me anymore. I’m once again thinking that the only feasible answer to my predicament is to get involved in a relationship, but at the same time I’m resentful that seems to be the only answer and further annoyed that it’s so damn difficult to find one.

Some of my older colleagues this week spoke about their exotic travels with their spouses and couple friends. Couple friends? What a concept! I haven’t heard from my couple friends in ages. And I can’t seem to work up much excitement for travel anymore since I’d have to go alone.

In the middle of my work travels, my old friend posted a happy, smiling picture of herself at home with the two gorgeous children she gave birth to in her early forties.

I read recently that children in orphanages stop feeling pain because nobody comes to their aid when they get hurt. I’m feeling less and less myself these days.


I realized this morning as I was puttering around that I’ve been feeling out of sorts due to all the loss I’m experiencing (hormonal shifts don’t help either). Here are some of them:

1) The loss of the idea of my former city as “home.”
2) The loss of the type of friends (my former roommate had once been one) who call often to gossip and vent. I’ve had to realize some people just aren’t like that– they are happy to see me occasionally but feel no need for long, intimate conversations on a regular basis. Currently my friends fit in to that latter category, while my personality type craves more of the former.
3) The loss of my closest physical and emotional connection– I finally had to call things “quits” with the guy who was never able to commit. Hopefully we will stay in touch.
4) The loss of my former identity, that of the woman who lived surrounded by independent bookstores, art cinemas, small comedy venues, art galleries, and the like. The last couple of years I had pulled back on those activities, as I had aged out of some and had grown tired of going to events alone all the time, but having those things at best an hour away has left me wondering who I am without them.

I’ve decided to go easy on myself in this adjustment period. There may be lots of time wasted on the weekends watching TV and surfing the net while I adjust.

the new world

I posted a question about whether it was “pathetic” to have roommates in your late thirties on Facebook and received quite a few interesting responses. My cousin, a professional in her early forties who has had a roommate for years and has saved a busload of money responded “There is nothing pathetic about it! The world is changing. Growing up, getting married, having kids, buying a house, and going into debt is not the way we have to live our lives anymore. The rules of the game are changing!”

Really, there is nothing pathetic about sharing resources with a group of like-minded people. If anything, we are at the forefront of a brave, new world. A world where seniors are choosing co-housing villages over bland retirement communities, where open learning communities are decommodifying education, where car-sharing and coworking spaces are becoming the norm, and where choosing roommates beyond the twenties is a sign of being wise enough to recognize that individualism is overrated—and most definitely isn’t a marker of having “made it” in the world. In fact, I’m learning that cultivating the ability to work and live with others in a way that ensures the well-being of everyone involved, while sharing resources and respecting individual needs is the new paradigm—the true sign of being a real grown-up.

the firewall

As I mentioned before, my kundalini yoga practice has kept me centered and has muted a lot of my anxiety and negativity. It’s like a firewall, protecting me from negative thoughts.

But these last few days I admit I have been beneath a cloud. I’m listening to Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw, and it’s heartening to hear such an adventurous, gutsy broad admit to some sadness about entering her forties unmarried and childless, to despair about her romantic relationship hitting a wall, and to fear that her true friendships come down to only one or two people. I also related to her confusion over both her desire for solitude and her need for company.

The weather has been delightful here and the beach is beautiful, but I can’t stop my psyche from signaling that something is amiss. That having only a couple of connections, connections that are thirty minutes to an hour drive away, is insufficient. That having very few people to converse with, and none on a regular basis, is unsafe.

There’s no way I can immediately remedy any of these problems, so I hope the firewall can keep me from feeling overly negative about them in the meantime.

the same old

Recently I met a talented man whose work I have long admired. I was thrilled to finally meet him, although, admittedly, I had written off our possible encounter long ago with the thought that nothing in L.A. ever develops into anything anyway. He identifies as straight, but I’m not completely sure.

Knowing that I’d have zero time for any correspondence once the work week began, I sent him a couple of emails the next day about topics we had conversed on. I suppose that makes me a brazen, desperate, aggressive hussy, but so be it. It’s such a rarity that I connect with anyone intellectually. He had mentioned getting together the next weekend, but after his responses to my emails, I didn’t hear from him again until Friday night.

Embittered old crone that I am, I read this as a bad sign, but I responded with a nice email just the same. The next morning he invited me to an event, one that would entail several hours of driving and a parking nightmare. I mulled it over for hours. Would all the trouble be worth it? I studied the logistics of fitting it into the weekend I had already planned for myself and getting to the location. Because I’ll be unavailable for the next two weeks, I finally decided it would be worth it to ignore some of the bad signs and go, and I answered in the affirmative.

Later that day he wrote back that his schedule had changed and he couldn’t go after all.

I am beginning to think that the remaining decades of my life are going to continue in this exact same vein.

On a positive note, I’ll be spending the day attending some local get-togethers that will perhaps help me forge more connections in my new location.

the antiquated!wXHi7

Describe the ‘perfect life’ that is expected of every woman.

“This is a weird time in women’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased as punch that I was born when I was. I’ve got more choices and opportunities than any generation of women before me, but our roles have never been more complicated by deeply ingrained mixed messages from both previous and present generations.

“The term ‘perfect’ is no longer used to describe what we’re all striving to be. Now it is called ‘fulfilled.’ But for women, the path to fulfillment is not through one thing, it’s all things—education, career, home, family, accomplishment, enlightenment. If any one of those things is left out, it’s often perceived that there’s something wrong with your life. We are somehow never enough just as we are. We are constantly set up by our expectations to feel as though we are missing something.

“In my case, it seems I was missing the family component, and was suspect for that gap in my resumé as a successful woman. I thought it was high time to call this nonsense out publicly, because this notion is not just about me, nor only about women in regards to marriage. It’s about anyone whose life doesn’t look the way it ‘should.’ I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds and quit clinging to antiquated notions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it has made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached.”


A common experience among women posting to the online bulletin board was a sense of isolation from the “fertile world” and the feeling that they were somehow “different” to other women. Many women talked about how not having children of their own meant that they were forever “on the outside looking in” on their peers becoming mothers and raising families. The knowledge that they would never be admitted into this “mum’s club” evoked a range of strong negative emotions in members of the online community. Emotions commonly expressed in the postings included intense feelings of grief and anguish at the loss of their opportunity to become biological parents, as well as anger that this role had been denied to them.

“I constantly feel like an outsider in this world. Wherever I go or whatever I do, I feel like the odd one out. I work in a female dominated environment with either younger girls having babies or the older women becoming grandparents. There are always happy family photos being passed around, so I do feel ‘different’ to everyone else.”

Several women also described how being unable to conceive a child of their own, appeared to have changed their outlook on life in general, which served to further separate them from other women around them. For example:

“One of the things I find hardest to deal with is people with a child talking about the next or one planning their first as if they are going to order one and the universe will deliver, at particular age gap, what sex they want and that be most convenient after their holiday so they can enjoy a drink!! But the reason it bothers me so much is that I’ve had to learn that life isn’t like that when it appears others don’t have that lesson taught. It can make me feel singled out for some hardship and it’s so unfair.”

Hearing about other people’s pregnancies appeared to be a particularly painful experience for women in the online community and served as a poignant reminder that they were unable to conceive themselves. For many women, receiving news that a friend, colleague or family member was pregnant resulted in a mixture of joy, despair and feelings of jealousy. Such news often prompted members to access the online community, in order to vent their frustration and express these conflicting emotions to people who could empathize with their experiences. In this context, the online community served as a unique environment in which women could alleviate their sense of isolation and connect with other women in similar situations.

“I went over to see a friend yesterday to ‘mourn’ the breakup of my relationship and she announced that she is pregnant. I wouldn’t wish this feeling of isolation and hopelessness on anyone, especially a close friend but it felt like a kick in the gut non-the-less….”

Some women also described feelings of distress when they heard stories in the media about motherhood or attended family gatherings, where there were young children present. These experiences heightened their feeling of being “the odd one out” and once again brought home the realization that they would never experience motherhood.

“TV personalities seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat or they have fertility treatment and it just seems to work first time for them. Reading these stories makes me really upset and angry”.

To protect themselves against reminders of their infertility and feeling like an outsider in social situations, several women reported avoiding certain family gatherings or cutting themselves off from friends who were pregnant or had children. Although this coping strategy was effective in avoiding painful feelings in the short-term, in the long-term it appeared to create a vicious cycle with members feeling more isolated and alienated from society as time went by:

“I have had an in built safety mechanism for years in which I distance myself from any friends/work colleagues/family of child bearing age, hence I was left with very few friends of my own age and have gradually felt more and more isolated.”

“I always dreaded family gatherings and made excuses not to go because i hated feeling like the odd one out whilst everyone around me had children or were expecting them. I tried to protect myself because i found it all too painful but at the same time i have found the feeling of isolation really painful and difficult too”.

the anomaly

My new place of residence is quite pleasant. It feels like a friendly small town. People are easygoing and welcoming. There are lots of nice restaurants and shops and farmers’ markets and plenty of opportunities for yoga and dance and tennis. And, of course, there’s the beach. I meet a lot of straight men, though most are married or divorced.

It is a different lifestyle from the anonymous, urban, and gay-friendly one I’ve been living for the past two decades, both in the center of L.A. and in the hip city I just moved away from. If I want to go to an art gallery, jazz bar, alt-comedy show, art film, or museum, I am, for the most part, looking at driving an hour into the city.

Although in the last few years I was only taking advantage of those things about once a week, it is true that “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I had stopped going out almost entirely as my job search dragged on this past fall, so I am somewhat used to spending my time cooking and studying instead, but this will still be a bit of an adjustment.

I do feel like a bit of an anomaly here as I find my way.