Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

I attending a wedding a few weeks ago, and ended up cloistered at a table with other singles: all divorced or widowed and at least 25 years older than me. I was able to make polite conversation, but often glanced around at the other tables full of my contemporaries, all coupled up.

My friend, the groom was beaming. After searching for a wife (including two engagements that never made it to the altar), he finally achieved his goal at age 44. The newlyweds story helps to legitimize online dating. They seemed like a perfect match. Not the same, and not without flaws, but their hearts compliment each other very well.

As the band played and I watched all the couples dance, I reflected on my uncoupled conundrum.

My most major mistake is obvious-I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Anytime a cute guy smiles at me, I swoon, and he could sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d pay top dollar, too because somehow his good looks translate into a man who is also smart, trustworthy, and caring-at least in my mind. It doesn’t matter how many times this illusion has been proved to be completely, and utterly untrue by a statistically significant margin, I dismiss the data and proceed naively believing THIS one is different.

Not surprisingly, they all end up all being the same narcissist

On the drive home, I stopped to fuel up both the car and myself. The cashier tried to help me select something to eat, but I was distracted by the black, blue, and purple balloon where her left eye should have been. Whomever’s fist broke her face, it happened not too many hours beforehand, but she was hard at work, and though she looked to be in pain, she did not complain, likely a veteran of physical abuse.

I drove off wondering how someone could stay with a man who speaks with his fists, but I quickly realized, who am I to point a finger? The emotional abuse I’ve suffered at the hands of my narcissist companions doesn’t show outwardly, but still leaves a mark. Yet, I walked away only half of the time, and only after a long time trying to rationalize staying. The other times, I was left behind with my heart ripped to shreds.

Why do we tell ourselves we are not worthy? I’d argue that I do believe in myself, but my reality tells a very different story. I’d like to blame the guy. I’d like to believe he doesn’t understand me, or he just wasn’t the right one, but the truth is I seem to lack a clear understanding of my value in this world.

Since Ann Landers says I can’t accept my dog’s admiration of me as conclusive evidence that I’m wonderful, I’d better set my sights on looking within.

“He who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened.” -Lao Tzu

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Singles Matter

I am single (as in never married). Additionally, I have no children. I am a middle aged adult on my own, though I live with/care for my 85 year old father. Despite the fact that my Dad often acts like a 6 year old, I am not a mother. In fact, very far from it, or so I’m told.

Over the past few years, I have experienced episodes of being overlooked and treated as insignificant, and sometimes openly ignored. You see, my friends are all mommies, and when they have the opportunity to spend time without their children, they flock to other mommies for sympathy and support. Other mommies relate well because they face the same daily struggles. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who understand, or so I’m told. I’m left out of conversations, activities, and events because I’m not at the mommy hangouts: picking up a child from daycare or pushing a little one on the swing, and I’ve learned that when I do see mommies, they have no interest in current events that do not involve their children. It’s like I woke up one day and the women with whom I have been friends for decades suddenly have nothing in common with me, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I’ve tried to relate. I listen to the endless chatter about their children, and I share stories about experiences with my niece and nephew, but I always get a look, or a smirk, or an “Mmmm” (non-committal acknowledgment that I was speaking) and it tells me, yes, that’s nice, but you don’t really understand because you aren’t a mom. Some people have actually said these very words to me, highlighting my insignificance in midlife. I’ve made no biological contribution to the future and as a result, there is no room for me at the table. I’m the one who eats lunch alone in the corner which is especially hard for me because I was never that girl as a child. This game is all new for me.

Several of my friends (and other members of my own family) have aging parents, but they allow others (doctors, assisted living facilities, other family members like me) handle it so they can remain focused on their children. It sucks for me. I want to jump up and shout, “Hey, singles are people, too!” but I’m pretty sure no one would listen because that kid over there just skinned his knee, and everyone is looking for the first aid kit, and deciphering whose fault it is, and discussing if needs to go the the ER, and…