thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: gratitude

pretenders

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/22/my_double_life_as_a_mommy_blogger/

And that’s just the kind of hard-won mom wisdom I would give to myself right now. The time isn’t right yet for the mom portion of my life, even though it’s on my mind more and more. I would also remind myself of that old Buddhist saying, be here now. I know we all have desires and dreams, we all have worries and questions about our lives. We all have wonder and adventure. It just takes different forms. I need to remember to be present in my actual, daily life because there’s a lot there for me, whatever it presently holds.

I had always imagined I would be that suburban mom with two kids, with one keeping me up at night with the stomach flu or complaining about how they won’t eat their vegetables. I never dreamed I would be a writer in beautiful faraway city doing things I never thought I could do. But life is funny like that, and also surprising. Just because you don’t have something now doesn’t mean you’ll never have it. Sometimes you have to pretend something before you can make it real.

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brainwashing

I only gave myself one New Year’s resolution this year, and I’ve completed it already. I figured moving and starting a new job was enough for one year.

I’ve kept up the meditation this year though and added in a few new alternative-health habits, and all that plus sheer mind over matter has allowed me to slowly taper down the medication I’ve been on due to an autoimmune condition. I had a grim prognosis initially and a couple of years ago was being advised to add an additional medication to my regimen. Now I am slowly but surely tapering down to the point that I may be medication free by the end of the year. I’m pretty much pain free and stronger and more flexible than ever.

To top off all the relaxation techniques I practice, I sometimes encounter a pod of dolphins swimming near me when I’m out in the ocean.

So the occasional blissful moment does wash over me.

surrendering

The forties and fifties seem to be a common time for people to surrender to their inner introvert:

http://equestrianink.blogspot.com/2013/04/on-being-hermit.html

In my old age (I’m 55) I am just plain happy at home with my husband and son and my horses and other critters and my garden. Doesn’t matter if I’m riding or doing chores, I can fill hours messing with the horses and/or wandering around the garden observing what’s in bloom (in the spring) or ready to be harvested (summer and fall). Truthfully I can fill happy hours watching the spring breeze toss the treetops on the ridges, or watching the goldfish dart around the pond, or the quail pecking in the riding ring, or the lizards catching bugs. I could seriously go on all day listing tons of small events here on my mini-ranch that happily engross me. I like to write, so often I write about these things. I like to take photos…and sometimes I post them here and on facebook. And I like to sit on the porch with a cup of tea in the early morning and a margarita in the evening watching the light change. I am never bored.

http://septembermay.blogspot.com/2012/04/finding-love-as-introvert.html

Thank god for aging. It wasn’t until I got into my 40s that I began surrendering to the hand I’d been dealt, which involved a long and arduous process of struggling, in earnest, with who I really was. And I’ve come quite a distance. Many years of solitude and introspection have enabled me to get out of my own way. My character has finally begun to take shape and find expression. And I am far more interested in living my own life than anyone else’s, even with all its uncertainty. For the first time in my life, I have found liberation in not knowing. I’m going to be 50 in June, and I’m very, very excited.

[…]

I have become someone I never thought I would be and frankly, spent much of my life fighting: a deeply sensitive, unconventional outsider who needs substantial alone time in order to assimilate, integrate and refuel.

That makes finding love extraordinarily difficult. I have spent the vast majority of my adult life on my own, outside the bounds of any conventional relationship. Couples who have found happiness in spending most of their days together are foreign to me; I cannot imagine living that kind of life.

bright-sided

I don’t know exactly HOW I got over the things in the prior post, other than not denying my feelings, and reasoning and reading my way through them, and letting time take its course.

This is how I feel about each item now:

1. I’m pretty content with participating in activities that get me out of the house and socializing with other people (strangers and acquaintances)– art shows, dance, tennis, yoga, etc. I also have some NoMo friends and have made peace with the fact that they are scattered across the country and this city and the friendships are not super-close. This might at least help them last longer. I recognize and appreciate the freedom I have to pursue disparate interests.

2. I try to maximize the positives and ameliorate the negatives of my location as best I can. I take some heart in knowing that there’s no place that truly accommodates older single people–so I can forget imagining a move will make everything perfect– but most places offer some things that allow one to grow.

3. Just knowing that endless thorny issues are part of most people’s working lives helps. The meditation helps me keep it in perspective, and I try to clock out after eight hours so I can refresh.

4. Time eventually dulls.

5. In regard to romance, I co-exist with uneasy impressions. On one hand, there’s no real reason I shouldn’t expect to find someone as most others have done; on the other, compatible men who are also available and looking for a relationship seem to be unicorns, at least in my galaxy. I just let that one be. When other people pair up, I just shrug and think, “Huh.” I’ve accepted that there’s not much I can do in this regard. Trying didn’t work, so I leave this one up to fate.

6. At bottom, I only rely on myself, and have a strong sense of self as a result.

This may still sound depressing, but I do pretty well. I don’t take anti-depressants. I sleep well at night. I get exercise every day, and I’m generally in a good mood. I do pretty well at work, I look forward to things, I have a solid intellectual life, I love to escape to shows that make me laugh, and I work on my own goals in my personal time.

I don’t discount this hard-won contentment though. I work with a lot of men and every single last one is married. I don’t see them volunteering for this solo living, and most of the people I know who are stuck in it are not doing all that well. I don’t think it’s abnormal to want love and support and companionship; in fact, enragement at going without is perhaps a normal and logical response.

I do feel from all the reading that I’ve done that the points I’ve made are commonly experienced by older women who are single and childless. Some may get lucky or are more resourceful than I am, but I know a lot of women who are less resourceful and/or less lucky. So hopefully some of them can take heart in knowing they aren’t alone.

flow

But back to happy thoughts.

I’ve been experiencing a remarkable amount of flow lately. The kundalini yoga leaves me feeling as relaxed and rubbery as Gumby. This has increased my flexibility and I think my power of concentration too.

I have to pry myself away from the deep flow I experience while reading and writing. Sometimes I’ll pull myself away to attend a ballet class, and although my mind is still engaged with something I’ve just read, my improvement in dancing is, forgive the pun, in leaps and bounds. Because I’m lucky enough to live close to the beach, I can walk over afterwards for a twenty-minute dart in the waves. Then later I might hop on the beach cruiser to run some errands, peddling past skateboarders, joggers, and surfers on the way.

Not a bad life. For whatever reason, I still find Friday evenings alone to be incredibly melancholy, but the rest of the weekend alone can be divine.

the outcast

So. Elliot Rodger.

I don’t want to say much because I have no idea what his issues were, and I could only stomach his videos for a few minutes. What seems apparent, however, is that he felt entitled to a certain type of woman– blonde, pretty, popular– and that his entitlement was likely fed by the surrounding culture. Unsurprisingly, those women seemed to be the only ones on his radar, and even then, he failed to grasp their humanity. The other apparent thing about him was his loneliness, alienation, and anger. He was angry that “undeserving” men were able to get women, but his racism and classism fueled his perceptions of “undeserving.”

The main reason I’m bringing him up, however, is that he gives all us lonely, bitter, skulking, single bloggers a bad name!

At least some of the “ick” factor I got from him has to do with my own sense of shame. So I just want to say it’s easy to feel alienated when you are single and childless. It’s common to give in to to the impulse to skulk about Facebook. It’s normal to have WTF moments when observing that some seemingly terrible people manage to get married and/or have kids when you haven’t been able to do so. It’s hard not to lapse into bitterness occasionally. It’s ordinary to find oneself without close friends, as they have all disappeared into coupledom and parenting. It’s common— and healthy in the absence of alternatives– to turn to the internet as an outlet (ahem). None of this makes you a pathological freak.

I have known many lovely, sociable, competent, attractive women who have unintentionally ended up single and childless, who have felt all those things, and who have found a great sense of community and solace in blogs and forums and books aimed at them.

I have felt all those things. And yet, I’m once again seeing the silver lining in my situation (like the clouds, that silver lining comes and goes). As a single woman, you still have to work, and you are more likely to be stuck in a stressful job than the married women you know. You have to do all the household maintenance and sometimes have to take care of elderly relatives. But. You don’t have to go to kids’ birthday parties or to Disney movies or take a child to the orthodontist or help out with homework. There are still slivers of free time to pursue the self-development that often gets curtailed when people start the cycle of birth/childhood/schooling all over again by having kids.

Rather than continue to pursue what I’ve missed out on, especially when it’s becoming clear that that ship has sailed, I have an opportunity to develop in some unusual (if unheralded and even unnoticed) ways. I’m feeling the urge to seize that again.

the notebook phase

http://www.xojane.com/sex/40-plus-and-single-and-very-much-ok

The more I focused on the positives, the negatives moved to my mind’s backburner. “I can’t stand my job, I’m miserable, I am going to crack any day now” became “It’s not a stimulating job, but I’m still okay.” I can also accept my single status, regardless of what other people think. I’m not defective, I’m not a weirdo (not all the time), but I have had obstacles to relationship bliss that I have worked through and that wisened me into the person I am today.

Living solo, I can walk around my apartment half-dressed, eat my lunch standing up, and spend Saturday night with my notebook instead of worrying about planning an outing or a meal that he would enjoy. I like date night, but I like time with my notebook too. I can accept that this is a notebook phase.

I am grateful to live in Oakland, California, the heart of the liberal San Francisco Bay Area, where I’m not considered odd for having never married. Had I stayed in Smyrna, Tennessee, I am certain I would be quizzed daily on “Why aren’t you married?” and “What’s wrong with you?”

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with me, Vicki, not one single thing.

muddling through

I remember being worried about turning thirty and then finding it liberating once I passed that milestone and still felt young. I had some of the best years of my life, in fact, from 30-32.

I feel myself once again turning a similar corner. I’ve passed through the worst years of realizing I won’t be having kids and may never get married and am feeling a blossoming of enthusiasm for life again. I’m still facing a number of challenges, but perhaps I’m on the upswing from the lowest-point of the U-shaped curve of happiness that age 44 is purported to be.

At the very least I feel my “muddling through” is par for the course in anyone’s life:

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/18/when_being_single_stopped_being_romantic_partner/

When I was pretending to be the easy-breezy single gal, I was buying in to the general cultural perception that single people occupy some developmental netherworld between goofy teenagers and sober marrieds. But as I cooked my brother dinner or grilled the urgent care nurse about his red-blood cell count, I noticed a peculiar sensation: self-respect. This was difficult, and while it would have been easier if we’d had partners, we were still managing.

Even the small stuff, I realized, wasn’t so small. One night, while sitting on Mark’s couch watching The Simpsons with him, I had a funny epiphany: I was all I ever needed to be. I didn’t have to be pretty or interesting or delighted with my life. I just needed to get the KitKats, to bring movies, to be a good sister.

Mark got better. “Cured,” the doctor said. We both went back to our regular lives and ordinary worries. But I cut the glamour-girl act. I wasn’t glamorous and I wasn’t always happy. I was an ordinary woman, muddling through, and that was more than enough.

the reset button

http://www.more.com/health/wellness/anti-aging-effects-meditation

Recently, alarmed at my brain’s seemingly swift degeneration (not to mention my impatience, distractedness, and maddening forgetfulness), I decided to try a different kind of mental exercise: meditation. It seemed unlikely that simply sitting, closing my eyes, and focusing on my breathing could help. But after only a couple of weeks — results are quick — I was starting to believe that the best thing to keep my mind calm, cheerful, flexible, and focused is to do nothing, for 15 minutes a day. Meditation made me feel both relaxed and more energetic. I developed a bit of distance between events and my reactions. Someone cut me off in the car? Maybe he’s having a bad day. A promising date didn’t blossom into a romance? Perhaps it’s his problem, not mine. Even at this early stage, I’ve noticed I’m much more able to let go of judgments of myself and others.

cuts

This past week I had some fun–including drinks out with a lively, smart, successful, never-married NoMo and a gorgeous, visually riotous bike ride along the beach– but overall, I found it to be a rather brutal seven days. I call it “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Over the course of the week, there occurred a series of small, humiliating, deflating moments that added up to one big overall feeling of defeat.

I used to yearn for a partner during these times, imagining someone who would always be in my corner, bolstering me along and soothing my wounds. The truth is, however, that a partner, even a good one, could just as likely be another source of ego-bruising.

I am happy to report, though, that I’ve come along way to being my own source of support. My apartment is a warm, happy place– a cozy retreat from the world. When I’m home alone, I don’t allow thoughts of self-blame or self-harm to take over. I’ve pretty much eradicated those impulses. Instead, I take the time to understand what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it, and why I made a mistake (or a perceived mistake)– something that other people often don’t have the time or inclination to do. I’m gentle with myself.

I admit all this is making me more cautious about the idea of opening my life up to someone, someone who might upset the equilibrium I so carefully manage to restore at the end of each long day.