It started when my mom died (I know that up til now I’ve been saying “my parent/a parent” because I’ve been obsessed with maintaining my anonymity. But there are lots of women my age in NYC whose moms died in the last few months, I’m sure). I distinctly remember it hitting me that night. She died early in the afternoon and I’d spent most of the day taking care of things/people that needed to be taken care of. And then, once I stopped and tried to rest, it hit me.
I realized that I had no one to lean on. No one who was there for me. Just for me. Sure I had my dad and other family members, but it was clear to me that it was my job to take care of them. I have some great friends, but they all have significant others or kids or someone else in their life who depends on them. The fact that I was single, without even a steady boyfriend, meant that there was no one to rush to my side and be there for me. So I laid there in my bed in my parent’s house and let the lonliness creep into me and cried. It’s been there ever since.
My mom and I had a complicated relationship. She wasn’t my best friend. In fact, there were several years during my teens and 20′s when we were barely on speaking terms. I don’t want to deconstruct our relationship here. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t the daughter she wanted and I couldn’t, back then, compromise. Then, sometime in my mid 20s I guess, I realized that it was really up to me. I had the choice. She was who she was and she wasn’t ever going to change. And she loved me and wanted to be in my lfe. I could accept her love and let her in and learn to get along with her or I could be like one of the many people I knew who’d completely cut their families from their lives (it’s not that uncommon to meet people in NYC who haven’t spoken with their parents in years). I decided to opt for peace and cooperation.
It was never easy between us. I couldn’t change some of the basic facts of our relationship. She could be proud of me, but she could never understand me. And she could never be as proud of me as she would’ve been if I’d gotten married and had kids. In fact, not too many conversations passed between us where she didn’t spend at least five minutes talking about someone else we knew and their impending nuptials or their small, adorable children. I don’t know if she was conscious of this or not, but it hurt each and every time. There was no accomplish I could ever have that could compete with a wedding and that was just that. I learned to live with it.
So imagine the irony of my realizing the night she died that the thing I felt more than anything else was lonely? I laughed about it through my tears. All she ever wanted was for me to have a husband. Someone to take care of me, to be there for me. And she was gone and I had no one.
Since she died I’ve been on a kind of hyperdrive, completely consumed with the idea that I needed to find someone and that if I did all of my other problems would somehow go away. I don’t know how aware/deluded I’ve been about this. I mean, I’ve been seeking “my partner” on and off for years. But I’ve been kind of nutty about for the past few months. And there has been an element of magical thinking involved, like somehow once I had achieved this then I’d have no more worries.
Everything came crashing down around me last Wednesday night. It was so silly. But I’m glad I finally faced what was going on in my head and how crazy I’d been making myself. I had another disappointing date. No big deal. I’ve had dozens of them. Probably hundreds. But I’d been hoping (in the way that slightly crazy people build up hope to an unrealistic degree) that things would go really well and that he would be the one. And then he wasn’t. And neither was the guy before him or the guy before him or the guy before him. And I’d been building them all up in my mind as the answer. The thing that was going to make that ache of lonliness inside of me go away.
It’s a horrible ache, you know. There are days I just lie in bed at night and try to remember what it was like before I felt this way and I can’t. It’s been so long that now it feels like it’s been there forever.
The truth is that the pain is there as much because I’m still grieving for my mom (and dealing with many unresolved family issues related to her death) as it is because I don’t have a guy in bed with me. And I know that even if I met some great guy that I would still have all of the other crazy/stressful things going on in my life right now.
Before this all happened (my mom dying, I mean) I always prided myself on being perfectly happy with my life as a single person. I wanted to meet someone because that would make my life richer, but I wasn’t pinning my happiness on it. I was happy either way. Her dying changed my thinking. I became one of those people who attached inappropriate significance to whether or not I found someone. If I found a man/bf/husband I would be happy. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t.
Well, now I’m making the conscious decision to go back to my old way of thinking. I like the adult I grew up to be. I like my independance. I like my life (for the most part). I’d like to meet someone, for all the reasons I’ve always written about here. But if it doesn’t happen I’ll be OK. OK, with me. Just me.
Tags: bad date, death, independence, lonely, married