thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: single life

the landscape

I too have always loved Heather Havrilesky:

http://www.theawl.com/2013/10/ask-polly-how-do-i-find-true-love-and-stop-dating-half-assed-men

Now imagine for a second that someone writes to me and says, “Look, you’re just ok and you’re old and you’re wasting your time on this bullshit.” (Um, no one does that, because this isn’t Salon.) But imagine that someone does tell me that. And imagine that I spend several hours of my time explaining why I’m awesome and my work here is incredibly significant to the health of the planet, and I fucking matter and I have great ideas, brilliant fucking ideas, I’m a genius, and seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? Suddenly this tepid bit of flotsam is taking up my time, and instead of turning away from it, I’m making claims that my work is deeply important (which, well, is a highly subjective stance).

[…]

Please note: this world also devalues free-flowing, emotional discourse from a woman unless she’s also funny AND sexy. If you’re not super fucking hot and funny first, you can go fuck yourself, ladies.

[…]

Because tepid is everywhere. Tepid is the air we breathe. Listen to me: We can’t do anything right. We can’t say what we mean, we can’t be ourselves, we can’t age, we can’t talk about feelings, we can’t fuck up. This is how it feels to be a woman, motherfucker. The world is filled with human beings who want us to shut up and shake our asses, point blank, the end. Can you fucking imagine if we had our own Kanye? For her to have Kanye’s power, and get invited on Kimmel, of course she’d have to be a mega-hot, funny as shit woman who walked around looking exactly like the chick in the short skirt who eats giant hamburgers on those Carl Jr. ads, but instead of eating a hamburger she’d be saying FUCK YOU, YOU ARE A SEXIST FUCK. I mean, sure, we have our women who look mortal and say this. Are they on TV? Rachel Maddow, she’s on TV. How many people in that bar would even know who the fuck she is? Who listens closely to Lena Dunham, who is gorgeous by the way? No, she’s not shaped right to listen to, right? She’s too full of herself? She’s too annoying?

Let’s not fall down that rabbit hole. All I’m saying is, here we are in a fucked up world. And even when you find your species, or at least your genus, you still are sometimes just a piece of ass to the best of them. Not even because they’re incredibly sexist—maybe they’re just pragmatic, or ambivalent in this case. They don’t happen to love you, is all. They don’t think you’re a math genius or a historian, and they’re gonna call bullshit. They think that when you talk, you’re wasting their time a little. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad. Sure, you want those guys and their futons and their best friends Sean to go fuck themselves, but that doesn’t mean they’re evil. But once they don’t love you, who the fuck cares about them? Were those dudes in the bar sexist, or did they just think I’m sort of bossy and repellent? Who the fuck cares?

You’re hunting a very small group, that’s all. Your target demographic, it’s small. There’s more than one of them, but they’re not everywhere.

That doesn’t mean your odds are bad! You will find love. Believe me. But in order to find it, I think you have to prepare yourself for a life alone, and be at peace with that. It’s a real tightrope walk. I get that. But you won’t tell tepid to fuck off if you don’t believe in your heart that you will rock it out one way or another.

In order to tell tepid to fuck off once and for all, you MUST recognize that life among those who don’t appreciate or understand you is bullshit. You don’t want to live that way. You don’t want to be badgery and lonely while you’re with someone. You’d rather be alone.

What will make ALONE look good to you? You have to work on that. Because single life needs to look really, really good, you have to believe in it, if you’re going to hold out for that rare guy who makes you feel like all of your ideas start rapidly expanding and approaching infinity when you talk to him. You need to have a vision of life alone, stretching into the future, and you need to think about how to make that vision rich and full and pretty. You have to put on an artist’s mindset and get creative and paint some portrait of yourself alone that’s breathtaking. You have to bring the full force of who you are and what you love to that project.

[…]

You have to do a lot. And you have to do it all against a backdrop of indifference that, as you get older, curdles into a kind of disgust. But you know what? We have each other. We have worlds within us, you and me. This mean, mean planet still rewards those who can see the depth and beauty of what they carry around inside of themselves. This indifferent landscape will rise up and give you love if you share what you have inside, if you dare to believe in your potential even as people tell you it’s a mirage, if you ignore the ones who are allergic to free-flowing, emotional discourse from YOU. They are everywhere, and they don’t matter. God bless them. Come on their Hampton blouse, and move on.

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flying debris

With this blog, I’ve tried to reflect on my experiences with fairness, compassion, honesty, clearheadedness, and nuance, all while maintaining a tone and style that protected anonymity all around.

I think I’ve done a pretty good job of it, and I think some readers have gotten a lot out of it and have, in return, contributed insightful comments.

But I’ll be honest; it’s gotten so that if I post something real and personal and substantive– the very appeal of this blog, I would think– I have to brace myself for the bullying, the lectures, and the sexism that are sure to result. It’s been a good test in that, at this age, I can see through a lot of it. I can also rationally decide whether or not the opinions expressed are valid to me; I no longer believe that every opinion has merit just because it is expressed forcefully.

Is it any wonder, though, why I find myself so attracted to people who display some sensitivity and charm? The irony is that so many of the commenters think I should lower my standards, while their comments often prove the opposite– that you can’t be too picky when it comes to who you share your life with.

In the words of Brene Brown, not everyone deserves your story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/brene-brown-advice-vulnerability_n_3392414.html

the scorched earth

Mary tried to be fair, but her jealousy was beyond all bounds. Possibly Mrs. Herbert had been shy. Possibly she might be something more than beautiful, rough, rude, brainless, vulgar. This was Mr. Herbert’s serious permanent choice. She had been an amusement, a very small incident. “But I am superior,” she thought.

— F.M. Mayor, The Rector’s Daughter, p. 152

Sometimes the old dog in the corner can still be roused; it will, on occasion, still prick up its ears or wag its tail. This particular old dog will, on occasion, even be roused enough to leave its solitary cushion, if a smart, witty, sensitive, like-minded soul comes around.

This weekend I made a bold move; I reached out to someone I barely know in an attempt to forge a connection with someone I’ve long identified with and admired. I put aside my sense of shame and took a chance, something I do about once a year, when I realize that any semi-satisfying relationship of any duration that I’ve ever had resulted entirely from my efforts. In the midst of my communication, however, I heard from a decades-old friend, someone I normally keep at a bit of a distance due to a long history of empathy fails. Long story short, wires got crossed, paragraphs were sent to the wrong person, and I ended up revealing a lot more to Mr. A (as I’ll call him) than I ever in a million years would have wished to reveal to him or almost anyone else.

Modern communication being what it is, however, I have no certainty that Mr. A received the messages. If he has received them, he has not responded. The power of vulnerability, indeed.

On a bigger level, I don’t know what, if anything, the universe was trying to communicate to me. “Shed old friendships that are standing in the way of more fulfilling ones” or “stick with the ones who actually call, no matter how frustrating and dispiriting they can be.”

In any case, in a week in which there has been a public outpouring of sympathy over a celebrity, I could have used a small show of kindness from Mr. A. On one hand, I could be totally humiliated over this; on the other, Mr. A could find the whole thing funny or touching and reach out. It appears, however, that there will only be silence; perhaps I don’t rate a response.

This old dog, however, with a head so weakly raised, easily returns to slumber in the absence of encouragement. There was nothing to be roused for, after all.

The internet is not much help in moments such as these. At worst, it provides the glib platitudes one encounters enough of IRL; at best, there is a feeling of “me too” solidarity and connection. What is missing is an empathetic ear that can take in all the specifics of the disaster that has happened; even better would be an empathetic ear that has some general familiarity with the players involved. This used to be known, back in the day, as friendship.

In my student period I was acquainted with a group of friends; of this group two were always my favorite. Over the decades, those two have only grown in my estimation, showing kindness, creativity, and wit in our encounters. They have both become writers. There was another member of that group whom I cannot recall saying a single thing of substance, intelligence, or charm, and who was unable to give me the time of day when I first moved to L.A. She moved here with no real career plans and ended up marrying a successful writer and having a brood of kids. It feels like she is living the life I would have liked to have lived. I was reminded of her again in all of this, because she is loosely connected to Mr. A, and were she a nicer person, I could try to glean some insight from her. Were she a nicer person, in fact, perhaps I would not have had to advocate for myself in the first place.

I feel, at this point, that I must just let all the embers die. The embers of unsatisfying friendships from my past as well as the last remaining embers of certain kinds of hopes for my future. That I must sit with the dark void for a spell, here at the bottom of the U-shaped curve of happiness, at age 44.

limitations

The two friends talked every night. Not for many years had the spare room walls heard such animation. Mary had received many confidences; it was part of her business in life. To impart, to confide herself was an unfamiliar delight.

Dora was very sympathetic within her narrow range. Outside it she was often astray, and did not follow Mary.

–F.M. Mayor, The Rector’s Daughter, p. 87

duty

To sit half an hour by an elderly lady getting deaf, another half an hour by some awkward spectacled girl, such was generally Mary’s fate at the parties of the neighborhood. When it was over she had accomplished a duty; for pleasure she preferred reading under the chestnut tree. To-day the one of all others she most wanted to talk to most wanted to talk to her, and there was no archaeology to spoil her happiness.

–F.M. Mayor, The Rector’s Daughter, p. 82

location

This week I travelled about an hour to visit another beach city, one that hosts my all-time favorite music event and is the home of the last three men (all creatives) who caught my fancy. It’s very “hipster” and much more in line with my interests than the family-and-sports-oriented place I am living in now.

On the other hand, it’s more congested and trafficy and I’d have a much higher chance of having out-of-control neighbors or customers. All of which is moot because there’s no job for me there anyway.

In L.A. you pick your poison. I read somewhere that it’s almost impossible to live, work, and play in the same area, but I did have that with my last job, which is why, despite all the issues, it was hard for me to leave it.

I am a little concerned about living in my current place until I’m in my fifties. It’s easy but may end up isolating me.

While in this other town, I stopped into one of my favorite health food cafes for lunch. It was mostly filled with groups of people in their twenties and thirties, on dates or with friends, along with a few families and one small group of middle-aged women. As I ate, I spied three other doppelgängers in the room– women over forty, eating alone. So perhaps my life would not be so different there.

drains

If there is one trait I could repeatedly isolate in the men I was wildly attracted to in the past, it is that they did exactly as they wanted and felt no need to burden themselves with the idea that they should put themselves out in the name of being “nice.”

This, of course, can be taken to the extreme, but I was too far on the other end, apparently, and envied their ability to say no. My twenties and thirties were a time of exploration, yes, but mixed in there was a lot of guilt and obligation. A lot of feeling like I should accept every invitation that came my way (largely due to being single), and then a certain amount of anger that, when all was said and done, I exhausted myself with little in return.

In the last few months I’ve experienced some of that again, as, being new to town, I’ve extended myself for people I’m not particularly interested in, and in return, they have cancelled plans at the last minute, shown up late, or promptly disappeared when a significant other appeared on the scene.

So when people tell me that I can be friends with people I don’t have a lot in common with, I take it with a grain of salt. I haven’t found it all that rewarding. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to just be around people, but time is limited, and when you get older, you want to do what you want to do, and doing otherwise will not necessarily be reciprocated or rewarded.

I’ve read a lot about how, as people get older, they tend to shed the friends they don’t enjoy and hang on to the ones they do. A problem in my life is that most of the ones I really enjoyed have been lost over the years, either to a falling out or to marriage and family, and I was primarily left with the ones who drained me.

My schedule this week was filled with a bunch of obligations I wasn’t excited about and that prevented me from doing one or two things I was interested in. Despite the guilt, I did cancel one… one small step at a time.

half truths

http://confessionsofanimperfectlife.com/2013/11/18/of-false-bravery-and-half-truths/

It’s difficult to reconcile: being proud of what you can do alone, and desperately wanting to not have to do it.

I wrote earlier this year about how turning 35 meant letting go of a life I had imagined for myself and replacing it with something else, something I was already living. But the real truth there? (Again, the but). I stopped short of the part where I admit that even in my happiness, there is still sadness. That I do still want a husband, and I do still want children. I have accepted that I don’t have them now, and I have made my life work without them because that’s what I had to do. It wasn’t brave, or strong, it just was.

Because you adapt, and you let go, and you accept, or you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.

the lulling

http://www.centerprogressive.org/lulled-into-numbness/

Successful movement through this Transition Zone accounts for some of the data about that upswing of happiness after the 40s, but not all. A larger source, in my experience, of later life happiness is more likely masked resignation and accommodation: People who more or less give up trying to grow and change. They decide, consciously or unconsciously, to lope along in the life they’ve been living and define that as happiness.

It’s illusory, though, because over time they tend to become “comfortably numb,” emotionally and spiritually. And, increasingly vulnerable to physical ailments, an upsurge of late-life depression, alcoholism or drug usage.

My daily meditation practice has provided me with a lot of benefits. My health has improved and I’m much calmer and more forgiving of others.

It hasn’t changed my actual circumstances though– despite the popular theory of “abundance”– and so, at the same time, I feel numb. Undeniably and remarkably numb. Numbly adapted to my circumstances.

I have trained myself not to expect romantic romantic fulfillment and not to feel disappointment over the lack of deep, meaningful friendships in my life or any kind of consistent intimacy. I have cultivated an appreciation for pleasant diversions and have stopped expecting much more than that in my time away from work. Having recently been bruised on the job market, I have stopped hoping for a job that truly engages me and instead appreciate the fact that I have one I don’t hate and that may allow me to retire early, if I hold my lifestyle steady.

All of this “accommodation” has taken a toll, but I’m unsure what choice I have. I could try online dating again, but chances are slim that anything will come of it, and I don’t particularly feel up to the psychic drain. I already participate in a number of social activities, but rarely do I meet like-minded peers. Occasionally I’m really, really enlivened by and drawn to a performer or artist of some kind, but outside of polite exchanges, nothing ever develops. I don’t see any solution to the job problem, but feel it could be greatly ameliorated by a satisfying personal life, but then that brings me back to the beginning of this paragraph.

I would like to keep growing, but I feel like I am reaching the limits of how much I can grow in solitude.

Accommodation. Resignation. I can’t see a way out.

pencil to paper

http://thoughtcatalog.com/katie-devine/2013/09/im-35-and-im-glad-i-dont-have-kids-or-a-husband/

I am the sales rep, I am the apartment dweller, I am the car leaser. Nothing too permanent, nothing that lasts. It’s a life lived in pencil instead of pen. It can be erased in an instant.

I’m not where I always thought I would be at 35.