I have/had another blog of sorts, and a long time ago I wrote a post about my singleness, or rather my discontent with being single, and I got all of the usual “There is nothing wrong with being single, you need to be happy on your own before you can be happy with someone else, you need to relax, you need to go out and find someone, you need to do X, Y, and Z…” and for the most part I can just blow it all off. But this morning, I got a comment from someone about it that just pissed me off:
“Maybe the biggest problem is that you seem to feel you HAVE to be married/coupled to be happy or otherwise you’re a “loser”. Why? Why do you feel the need? Could that be why you have had some of these problems? There was a book out some years back that when I read it, it knocked me out–“Smart women, foolish choices”. You might get something out of it–helluva lot more than “dr.” philisms…… “
So I want to make clear a few things for those who feel like they can tell all about me from reading ONE article:
1. I know that I am better off alone than in a shitty marriage. I have HAD a shitty, abusive marriage, and as hard as the aftermath has been for myself AND my kids, even over 5 years later, I am still better off. I don’t need YOU to tell me how much better it is to be alone than miserable. And the funny thing about this very-common mindset? In my experience it almost always comes from people who are still married to the same person they have always been married to. So yeah, you sit there on your couch in your slippers and eat popcorn and burp with the guy you have been married to for 20 years, and tell me how much better off I am to be alone. All I can say to that is a big “You have no idea.”
2. I have learned that I don’t NEED a man to be whole, thank you. I have been the primary breadwinner for my family for over 15 years now, and the ONLY breadwinner for the last 5 and a half. I know how to reseal a toilet, put together and fix a lawnmower, replace cracked PVC under the sink. I can also dig a hole and reseat a fence post, use the weed whacker, and dig up the rosebushes. I know how to camp-and no, we don’t have a trailer or a gas stove or anything like that-and can fish with the best of them. I know how to play catch and cheer at a t-ball game, and I know how to handle school problems. And I also know how to use a vibrator(though sadly, I don’t own one)or my fingers. You’re right, I don’t NEED a man. I AM whole; I have friends who love me, I have my chosen family, I have a support network. My problem is not a barren life with no outside interests; I have too many things going on in my life at any given time.
3. I am not interested in the dating game, and no, the solution to loneliness is not to go trolling for a new guy. I am well aware of my limitations, and this is one of them: I totally SUCK at dating, and I hate every minute of it. I don’t have any friends who are single, not here where I am, so going out “with the girls” isn’t an option. I don’t drink, so going to the bars is not an option, and even if it were, I would certainly not be looking for a potential partner in a bar.
4. I know I don’t HAVE to be married. Of course, I want to be, but clearly that shouldn’t matter. It also shouldn’t matter that regardless of how much our society has changed and grown, the basic belief that unmarried women are somehow failures, or are morally bankrupt, or are somehow flawed, is alive and well in this country. Thriving, even, as our nation struggles to find some kind of moral compass based on the 50’s idea of family life, that mom should stay home and raise the kids while dad provides for the household. I have read articles and heard news stories from otherwise intelligent, educated people blaming the downfall of the economy of we single mothers, as if we are somehow responsible. If our boys end up in prison, it is somehow our fault because we have raised them without a father. If our girls end up pregnant, it is also our fault for having raised them to be promiscuous. And if our kids DO succeed in life, it is ALWAYS pointed out that it is IN SPITE OF our single-parenthood. So even though I well know I don’t have to be married, I also experience first hand the fact that this nation does not view me and my family in the same way I do myself. This is also one of the comments I hear mostly from happily married, two-income people.
5. I have never (and for the person who wrote the above comment, if you have ever bothered to read any of my previous posts, you would know this about me) absolved myself from any responsibility so far as my relationships-or lack thereof-goes. But I refuse-flat fucking REFUSE-to believe that some asshole self-help book abut relationships by some doctor who doesn’t know me can in any way “solve” my problem-because while of course there is personal responsibility on everyone’s part, this kind of shit just reinforces the idea that I-and every other woman who has made a poor choice in men and got fucked-are solely responsible. What about the fact that in this day and age, it is still socially acceptable for a man to walk away and leave his children behind? For him to go on to raise second or third families while forgetting the fact that they have children that they SHOULD be responsible for? For him to have the freedom and the ability to date whenever and whomever he wants, without having to take into consideration the example he has to set for his children? For people to look at him as the poor fucked over slob with kids he doesn’t get to see, who gets sympathy while we are raising the kids and having men run from us as fast as possible when they find out we DO have kids? So yeah, I have a problem with that. A big one.
I have also never been shy about the fact that I have recently been grieving the loss of a very important relationship, and it really sucks that I am supposed to ju
st blow it off and move on. It really sucks that people put so little importance on love that they CAN do that; but I can’t. I am not an unhappy person by any means; I actually have a pretty good life, but the one person I have ever really loved recently broke my heart, and I am struggling. I hate the fact that sanctimonious, self righteous assholes can sit back and tell me what I need to do, when really, they have no idea. And I also refuse to buy into the fact that I am somehow supposed to be okay with this one hole in my life that makes me terribly sad. I know a guy who is desperately trying to have a child, and I have never heard anyone make the comment that maybe he should just figure out how to be happy without a child. Why is this any different? If you know someone who thinks that the ONE thing that will make his life complete is a seat in the Boston Symphony, would it occur to you to say, “Hey, you have spent all of this time learning and excelling at playing the cello, and you are really great, but maybe you should take up the harmonica instead…” Isn’t that all the same thing? You are telling me that I shouldn’t want the one thing that will make my life complete-not happy, because no ONE thing can make me happy, but it is the desire of an honest heart; why is that not right? Why is it that when someone is honest and open about those parts of her life which aren’t picture perfect is also somehow failing in THAT?
I am tired of not being allowed to feel however I feel. I am tired of people telling me, however subtly, that what I feel is WRONG or somehow not okay, or that the answer to all of my problems and fears and issues is to convince myself that it doesn’t matter. Bullshit-it matters. But if you think I am crying myself to sleep every night and refusing to take an active and proactive part in my own life, you are sadly mistaken. I do all of the things I am supposed to do, and I do them well. I do a lot of things I WANT to do, and turn down a lot invitations to spend time with other people because it is equally important and necessary for me to spend time alone. I do everything I can to make my life a good one, for my kids and for myself. But I am not going to give up on the idea that I am deserving of love, and I am not going to lie about the fact that I hate the fact that I am single. It just doesn’t help me to pretend that because it doesn’t matter to YOU, it shouldn’t matter to ME.