After a period of complete + utter boy-drought + relative singleness-acceptance, the issue seems to be back on the radar like a burning beacon of malcontent. Sometimes it happily fades to the background + then sometimes all conversations revolve around it + it starts to feel like my defining feature. And please know that I recognise the unifying element of “all conversations” as me. Everyone knows how capable I am of banging on about it. Oh look, here I go again.
Everywhere I go, the ugly side of singleness is leering in my face, invading my personal space with overgrown nostril hair + sock-breath. There are so many bad bits + sometimes they hit en masse…
- Being asked why there’s no man on the scene + what my “plan of attack” is. Like I am some rampant man-chewer.
- More articles in the paper about plummeting fertility rates + the need to get on and have babies while you still can.
- Babies everywhere.
- Cute dads everywhere. With babies.
- Friends. Having babies. At a rate of knots.
- Dry-spell desperation.
- Reaching a point where I seriously consider responding to last-year’s-shag-buddy’s emails.
- Ogling at the little baby students on campus, like some kind of pervy old trench-coat wearer.
- Knowing that to them I am the equivalent of some kind of pervy old trench-coat wearer in my attractiveness.
- Being struck down by a monster coldsore + mega-eczema at the same time + feeling even less attractive than some kind of pervy old trench-coat wearer.
- Seeing photos of he-who-shall-not-be-named on farcebook, new girlfriend in tow.
- Finding reassurance in the fact that a bunch of workmen checked me out during this morning’s tea break. (Unobserved by me but duly noted by Carolyn and Jen.)
I could keep going but I won't. The moral of the story is that sometimes it sucks to be single. And I know I'm not the only one who thinks so.
I recently had dinner with a gorgeous girlfriend, one of the gentlest, most genuine people I know. She was feeling blue for a number of reasons, with perhaps the icing on the cake being treated with disrespect by a dirty dog. This is someone who quietly + bravely braces herself when the storms pass through + deals with sand-up-the-nose swell she doesn’t deserve. She wanted someone to listen to her when she expressed the pain that these experiences can bring. Something we all need. To have the IT’S NOT FAIR moment + share that. She said to me (+ this is my usual sloppy, inaccurate paraphrasing) that she longs for the chance to experience an ongoing relationship with a decent fella + to potentially build some kind of shared future. To not be out there on her own struggling with it. All the bloody time. I could hear the pain in her voice + I could feel it too. There was nothing that I could say to shift the experience or make things better. But by listening I could at least help her to feel acknowledged + understood… I hope. Because yes, being single sometimes sucks + we deserve a little understanding around that.
The temptation – as with all of the circumstances that life hands us – is to think that being single makes life suck. I firmly believe that this is not the case, but it’s an easy rut to fall into when I'm feeling sad or have been treated less-than-well. It’s important for me to step back from that + recognise that there is no single (‘scuse the pun) factor that has the power to make my life good or bad. (Okay, so perhaps excluding premature death.) One thing that I do have a real tendency to blame on my singleness is the lack of momentum that I sometimes feel. I often have this sense that my life is not moving in a meaningful direction. And that maybe if I had a partner that would change. I could get on with the serious business of living my life rather than hanging around in limbo. Of course the reality is that there is nothing limbo-like about my life. It’s life – up, down, good, bad, fun, a drudge, whatever it happens to be in any given moment. But in its entirety, golden. I love it. And the irony is that I love it more now than I was ever able to with a partner.
An old friend wrote to me from London a while back + talked about the lack of momentum that she feels at times. For her it has nothing to do with being single - she has a lovely, supportive partner - but with a whole host of other factors which feel outside of her control. Maybe that's the common denominator... a lack of control. And the invevitable clash that occurs when our sense of a god-given right to control + order + choice comes head-to-head with the unavoidable fact that life is largely outside of our control. How do we make sense of this? How do we move past the feeling that life is frequently unfair? How do we enjoy it regardless? I don't know. If I did I'd be writing a best-seller rather than ranting away to myself here. But I think an important element of the answer is PATIENCE. And that, my friends, is where this flat-pack + allen key has lead me.