Friday, August 24, 2012

Life Unexpected

The reason I started this blog was to give a voice to the forgotten single woman.
As I settled into my 30s, not married, I began to see how I didn't fit in.

Look at my early posts, even joining my church congregation for donuts after mass left me standing alone - women my age had children and only spoke to other moms. The men couldn't talk to me because their wives might give them the hairy eyeball. Older men and women also had kids, and conversations about summer activities or Christmas plans centered around their children. As they shared anecdotes, I would offer my experiences as a child and then I'd get the hairy eyeball -- because they had the impression that I was making it about me, when really, I was offering the childhood experience I knew of and it happened to be 30 years ago.  I've never seen the joy and anticipation on my own child's face on Christmas morning. Give me a fricken break!

Then my own friends were getting married and having babies and they typically fall off the radar for a while.

Those that didn't get married, struggled with dating like me.  But eventually they'd move in with their boyfriend and wonder why I'm not getting past the third date - expected-sex-with-someone-you-don't-even-know -gauntlet.

All the while, I've felt I could relate to what's going on in other people's lives, or I would at least try to.  Lend a sympathetic ear. Offer to help with their kids. Show up at a loved one's funeral.  But it seems no one can return the favor.

The other night I was out with a group of people from my church.  A handful of married couples, and a handful of single women, one single man. As stories were exchanged, there was laughter and smiling and continued conversation.  But when a single person shared a life story, everyone seemed uncomfortable. There would be a lull until a married spoke again.

One of the other single ladies and I, got on a tangent of online dating and the plague of men's shirtless, bathroom mirror self-portraits!  For the love of God - why?! we exclaimed, laughing.  The marrieds looked horrified, asked what we were talking about, and once they were enlightened, quickly changed the subject.  Oh my. That's uncomfortable, let's talk about pleasant things.  Oh how they're glad they married years ago and avoided all that horror.  Well, lucky you. So much for relating to us.  The reality of my life is unpleasant. I guess we'll talk about your kitchen remodel instead.

The blessing of this blog has been feedback from women like me, a lot like me or just a little like me - who relate to the same struggles.  The life alone. The challenges of dating. The frequent disappoint in dates or in others who just don't know what to do with us.

So no, it's not about sunshine and unicorns all the time. But this is life.  Life unexpected.

I never expected to have to introduce myself to so many strangers, and tell my story to hundreds of men who were going to do nothing with it. Oh how draining!
Over time, you figure out what to share and what to leave out.  And then again, you learn that the nugget you should have left out for one man, might have been the nugget that makes the difference for another.  Maybe you should have told him.  Now you second guess yourself.  That's when dating becomes a chore and I'll be honest - I don't even know what to say anymore. All this dating has made me socially awkward.  What is worth sharing with the next person?

If I haven't sounded happy and blissful all the time, try to keep in mind that I dealt with three of the past six years unemployed and another year underemployed. You don't know stress until you have lived that.  Remember too, I had no support system. My parents were in another state, with hardly a clue of what my struggles were. My friends here thought I was living a life of relaxation, not going to work! People at church must have thought I had a trust fund or wealthy family supporting me, because they offered not one word of encouragement through that terrible struggle.

In that same time period, I went through two messy breakups with the one man I thought I would marry.
Just when I thought I had everything rolling in place, a good full time job, dating again.... my dad died.

So yeah, for a long time I had no good news to share. People don't like that. They stop calling. Rather than try to encourage that person, most will avoid them.  Resulting in even less good news to share.

Someone with a support system might have an easier time of it. But because so few people in my life relate to me, to my experiences, to my situation and struggles - I feel even more alone.  That has been a great mystery to me, that people who are never married can relate to married people's problems.... but the whole world started out single, yet the minute they're married they can't relate to single's problems. Mystifying.

The worst thing I did, I think, was to lose my blogging groove. There have been really supportive, fun, encouraging women here  - even more when I was blogging regularly. Over time, I imagine my story became less fun to follow.  I am sorry for that, but one of the most precious moments in my life was seeing all the comments and support from my bloggy friends when my dad died a year ago. I can't thank you all enough for that.

But the one thing I have done here is share honestly. Hopefully I've shined a light on the dark side of what many women go through ... so that when you see someone else go through it, you're inspired to show up and to hold her and to love her through it.

That is what my bloggy world has done for me.  The best of you have been here to lift me through it.
Thank you.


Jenni said...

One reason I just about quit posting on my blog was the lack of "happy" posts to write. I appreciate your voice through the good and not so good of navigating the single life. Thanks for sharing your experiences - so very often I find myself nodding and saying "yes!" through your posts as you express so many of my sentiments so very well.

Rachel said...

Even if I don't comment I still read your posts. Being married I sometimes just don't know what to say so I just pray for you, for strength, peace, endurance, etc. But I also pray for friendship. It's not easy. My best friend is single. Sometimes we have a hard time connecting but we have our things in common and we make an effort. So reading your blog has helped me have some insight into what things are probably like for her. And it challenges me to reach out a little more to those around me that might not have someone to share everything with. Mostly, I just wish I could give you a big bear hug. :)

TRS said...

Thanks Jenni and Rachel!
@ Jenni - yes, I've thought of the same thing, worrying about not enough happy posts.
Life isn't always easy. And I'd rather be real than put on a fake smiley face. Mostly because I have a real aversion to the type of people who are attracted to fake smiley faces because they can ignore and avoid anything unpleasant in life - and I'm just not into denial!

@ Rachel - Thank you so much for your prayers. How kind of you. Yes, these different paths in life do separate us at times. I hope my sharing my perspective helps you to relate to your friend better.
I hope that for all friends across this divide!

Heidi said...

I look forward to your blogs, partly because it's nice to know that other women of faith are struggling with singleness, and partly because I like your voice and think we would be friends in real life. You inspire me.

TRS said...

Heidi, Thank you that is so sweet!
Wow... I inspire you?! That is the nicest thing you could say! I need to swing by your blog more often!

Joyful said...

I enjoy reading your blog even though I don't comment very often. It helps to know that there are other single women out there going through similar situations. Thank you for your blog.