thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: loneliness

book mates

Mary liked the long Dedmayne winter evenings. In October, as regularly as the leaves fell, she began the winter habit of reading her favorite novels for an hour before dinner, finding in Trollope, Miss Yonge, Miss Austen, and Mrs. Gaskell friends so dear and familiar that they peopled her loneliness.

— F.M. Mayor, The Rector’s Daughter, p. 24

alone time

I think I’ve put my finger on why I’ve been feeling a bit numb lately, even while doing the things I enjoy, like swimming in the ocean on a beautiful day.

It’s not that I mind doing so many things alone– as I always have done so– it’s that I’m not feeling particularly connected to anyone, anywhere. So there’s a certain pointlessness that has crept in, even though I’m generally feeling even-keeled.

the hipster

I miss hipsters. In all their various guises they are easy to poke fun at it, but over the last twenty-five years I’ve thrived most when living in the hipster corridors of the United States. Romantically, no, but my failure in that realm cuts across all social realms, so I can’t pin that one entirely on the hip.

The thing about hipsters is they are obsessives. They obsess about music, movies, books, fashion, food, art, and ideas, and they are attracted to the novel and to alternative lifestyles.

When you remain single and childless, what else are you gonna do? Those have been my interests too.

The question is, over the age of forty, can you be a hipster? It’s a look and stance that doesn’t age particularly well, although aging is hard on everyone. Perhaps one’s hipsterdom hardens even as the young move on to various new iterations (http://madmommamoogacat.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/confessions-of-an-aging-hipster/). It does seem that it’s harder to get as excited about all things new as when gets older.

Most hipsters, like most people, have kids, although it seems they do so on the later side. They then turn to creating a hip family.

What about the rest of us? We don’t really fit in at a lot of the usual hipster haunts anymore, especially as older women. On the other hand, it’s really hard for me to relate to people who have spent the past several decades primarily focused on marriage and kids and careers and sports, while I was intently reading multiple books a week, obsessing over certain films and music albums and alternative social scenes, and attending all kinds of unusual events.

Where’s the commonality? I have become a certain type of person after spending the first twenty-five years of my emerging adulthood in a certain type of way. To completely lose touch with all that would be to lose who I am as a person.

shortages

http://www.philosophersmail.com/relationships/how-we-end-up-marrying-the-wrong-people/

One is never in a good frame of mind to choose a partner rationally when remaining single is unbearable. We have to be utterly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to have any chance of forming a good relationship. Or we’ll love no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us being so.

Unfortunately, after a certain age, society makes singlehood dangerously unpleasant. Communal life starts to wither, couples are too threatened by the independence of the single to invite them around very often, one starts to feel a freak when going to the cinema alone. Sex is hard to come by as well. For all the new gadgets and supposed freedoms of modernity, it can be very hard to get laid – and expecting to do so regularly with new people is bound to end in disappointment after 30.

Far better to rearrange society so that it resembles a university or a kibbutz – with communal eating, shared facilities, constant parties and free sexual mingling… That way, anyone who did decide marriage was for them would be sure they were doing it for the positives of coupledom rather than as an escape from the negatives of singlehood.

When sex was only available within marriage, people recognised that this led people to marry for the wrong reasons: to obtain something that was artificially restricted in society as a whole. People are free to make much better choices about who they marry now they’re not simply responding to a desperate desire for sex.

But we retain shortages in other areas. When company is only properly available in couples, people will pair up just to spare themselves loneliness. It’s time to liberate ‘companionship’ from the shackles of coupledom, and make it as widely and as easily available as sexual liberators wanted sex to be.

selfie motivations

http://thoughtcatalog.com/jessica-blankenship/2013/11/in-defense-of-selfies/

Obviously, not everyone wants to partner up and make babies; I’m not saying that is the literal end goal for all of our social media ego building. I’m talking about our primal motivation, before you account for all the conscious decisions about our individual lives we each make aside from that. When you really follow the motivation behind every single post down to its source, you will always, always find a desire to connect, to be loved, to have sex, to be seen and known and desired and valued by another person. The only question is why are we so afraid of that? (Answer: confronting the basic human underpinnings of all of our daily actions would mean existing in a permanently vulnerable state, and I think we can all agree when I say, “Fuck that.”)

No matter what social media vessel you feel most comfortable with, be it pouty-lipped selfie or 2,000-word essay defending selfies, we’re all perpetually striving to put together all the pieces that give the impression of our best vision of ourselves, cast forth in the hope that someone will notice and love us in whatever way it is we need to be loved. The only reason we hate on selfies is because they are way less subtle about it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to, literally or figuratively, put your best face forward. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved. Maybe if the rest of us weren’t so strangely opposed to admitting that that’s why are on social media in the first place, we would be less judgmental of the selfie-takers who aren’t afraid to wear their approval-seeking behavior on their sleeves.

darwinism

When I think about where I’ve ended up emotionally, I have to wonder what it all means. Does it signal growth– a kind of uber-maturity in realizing and finding peace with the idea that one can ultimately only depend on oneself? A sort of Buddhist wisdom in dropping expectations of others? A natural evolution in which one outgrows the need to routinely discuss one’s experiences with others and learns to depend primarily on one’s own counsel? A developed sense of perspective in which one realizes one’s life experiences are not particularly unique or special and other people are too wrapped up in their own lives to care?

Or is it a numbness–a resignation–after years of disappointment? An inability to trust?

Or is it neutral, nothing more than a smart adaptation to the way society is heading– solo living, lots of mobility, the decline of marriage?

If so, the irony is that the better one adapts, the less likely one is to procreate.

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.

pods

http://www.oregonlive.com/O/index.ssf/2009/01/multidisciplinary_artist_tiffa.html

She wanted to talk about the grief, but publicly acknowledging the pain of wanting a child, but not being able to have one, the complexity of that — there seemed to be no good framework for it. People talk about their children all the time, but how can you talk about mourning the child you will never have without taking away from their happiness? How do you explain to your closest friends that attending a baby shower is just too painful right now, that you can’t go to the grocery store during the day anymore, because the sight of all those children and mothers overwhelms you?

She felt she had to carry so much in silence, alone.

“There are some days,” Brown said last spring, “where I feel like an alienated, childless freak. And as I get older, there will be fewer and fewer people around me who don’t have children. … ”

[…]

She threw herself into researching childlessness, reading everything she could get her hands on, joining online discussions, listening to other women’s stories of childless by infertility, or reluctant choice, trying, as she put it, “to contextualize myself in a larger humanity — as opposed to my tiny pod of grief.”

the brazen

http://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/shame-on-singlehood/

You see, Im single, and thirty and sometimes I just feel really alone. This is a world built for couples, for families and I am tired of being just me.

There was a time, and not so very long ago that I would have been a little ashamed to admit that so openly and brazenly. But its true. Somehow its easy to feel ashamed of those desires as though by saying that I want to be married I am admitting to being a mindless knit wit of a girl who sees value in herself only if she is loved by someone. It’s not that I feel that I am getting so old, or that I see all my friends married and feel left out, it’s not that I feel that I must be unlovable if I don’t have some man doting on me and getting down on one knee to propose. It’s not even that I am often lonely, although I am. It’s none of those things.

the terminator

Regardless of the myriad reasons for a life without children, many have experienced one common silent battle; feeling abandoned by friends who became immersed in motherhood. Some say they woke up one day, often in their mid to late 30s, and realised 20-year friendships have been put on the back burner because their friends had little time or, in some cases, too little inclination for a social life that didn’t revolve around their young family or other mothers.

Voicing these concerns publicly is somewhat of a taboo; there’s plenty of media discourse and blogs about how to balance motherhood with work, the struggles of women who seek to become parents through IVF and the dilemmas faced by women who are full-time mothers. And celebrity motherhood is fetishised in tabloid tales of the baby-making exploits of Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie’s frantic rate of adoption, and speculation over Jennifer Aniston’s “agony” at her childless status.

But admitting to feeling marginalised by friends for having not propagated the species is akin to outing yourself as a Miss Haversham figure surrounded by cats and knitting needles.

Fiona, a 37-year-old who never wanted children, says motherhood has been a “friendship terminator” for her.

– See more at: http://www.independent.ie/life/family/family-features/i-have-lost-friends-because-i-dont-have-children-30366530.html#sthash.PZ5vlhqo.fxJGpqiw.dpuf